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When two worlds collide

On the evening before violent protesters disrupted this year's IMF/World Bank meeting in Prague, Jim Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank joined a panel discussing globalization with some untypical guests: Hong Kong trade union leader Elizabeth Tang and Paul Hewson, better known as Bono, lead singer of the Irish rock group U2.

The meeting was polite, if strains were evident. "I have never listened to so many financial people talk and in two days, I've learned a lot," said Tang. "I've learned that we live in two different worlds."

She added: "don't think workers and trade unions dislike globalization: we think it's inevitable. What we don't like is the consequence of decisions made by the World Bank and IMF which cause people to lose their jobs. Outside, in the real world, trade unions are being suppressed and weakened by policies of the World Bank and IMF on privatization and restructuring. In China, 10 million workers have been displaced by privatizations. Is the World Bank listening to these people?" She urged the World Bank to attach greater conditions to its biggest borrower, China.

Bono has been campaigning for debt relief since performing at the 1985 Live Aid concert to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.

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