BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has called on the country's labor unions to play a greater role in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of the working class.
Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks in a congratulatory speech delivered at the opening session of the 16th national congress of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).
Liu urged labor unions to "take a clear-cut stance and gain the initiative" to safeguard workers' rights of employment, insurance, health and vacation, as well as to guarantee their rights to know, participate, express and supervise.
Members of labor unions were asked to implement the "mass line", a one-year campaign launched in June by the CPC to boost ties between Party officials and the people, while cleaning up four undesirable work styles -- formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.
During his speech, Liu praised the role of the working class in modernization, adding the structure of China's growing number of working class has been optimized and their quality enhanced.
The working class is the leading class in China and the CPC Constitution stipulates that CPC members are the vanguard of the Chinese working class, people and nation.
Liu called on the working class to contribute to the realization of Chinese dream -- a concept introduced by President Xi Jinping, widely understood to represent the renewal of China -- stick to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and push forward reform.
Founded on May 1, 1925, the ACFTU is China's only umbrella union and has 31 provincial trade union federations, 10 national industrial unions and more than 1.3 million grassroots trade union organizations affiliated to it.
The ACFTU is now the world's largest labor union with 280 million members, 109 million of whom are migrant workers from rural areas seeking jobs in cities.
Like Western labor unions, the ACFTU's role includes coordinating labor relations and seeking better working conditions for its members.
Led by the CPC, the ACFTU also serves as a "bridge" between the CPC and the masses and assists the government in ensuring the continuing operation of the labor market.
However, its function now faces challenges posed by a new generation of Chinese workers who are more educated and increasingly aware of their rights.
Over the past few years, strikes have broke out in both joint ventures and local enterprises. Workers demand better pay and working conditions and are more determined in protecting their interests.
In his speech, Liu called on the working class to safeguard social stability and unity, maximize positive elements, dissolve negative elements and form a positive momentum of union and hard work.
"The working class should become the role model of unity and progress, and vigorously promote the glorious tradition of unity, cooperation, mutual assistance and friendship, and strengthen unity with other working people and all strata of society," he said.
Friday's session was also attended by CPC and state leaders including Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.
In a work report, ACFTU chairman Li Jianguo said in the next five years trade unions at all levels would strive to contribute to deepening reforms and completing the construction of a moderately prosperous society.
Li, also a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, called for efforts by trade unions to promote scientific development and transformation of the economic development pattern.
He also urged protecting employees' interests, promoting harmonious employment relations and building the unions to be a reliable "home for employees."
The congress is held every five years. The previous session was convened in Beijing in September 2008.