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China's Union Charity Drive Benefits 71 Mln Poor Families

China's trade unions have appropriated 26.4 billion yuan (about US$3.6 billion) of charity funds to help 71 million poor workers' families since its "Sending Warmth" program was launched in 1992.

An official with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), the country's top level trade union, disclosed the figures at an international forum on economic globalization and trade unions which was concluded in Beijing on Tuesday.

Launched by the ACFTU 16 years ago, the charity program aims to give care and material support to poor workers.

In the past 16 years, trade unions at various levels have visited 1.14 million enterprises with financial difficulties and have lifted about 4.45 million poor workers' families out of poverty, the official said.

A nationwide assistance network for poor workers has come into place, with assistance centers for poor workers covering 100 percent prefectures and 80 percent counties, according to the official.

"The network provides a strong backup for maintaining workers' lawful rights and for ensuring a more equal sharing of the fruit of economic and social development in the country," the official said.

Separately, the "golden autumn scholarship" program, with active participation of the trade unions at all levels, has raised 2.7 billion yuan and aided 3.38 million children from poor workers' families to go to school.

China has the most giant trade union organizations in the world, with about 193 million members in more than 1.5 million grassroots trade unions.

(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2008)

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