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The challenges posed by economic globalisation make it imperative that civil society organisations break down the barriers that have traditionally divided them, in order to ensure that the rights of those who are marginalised or vulnerable are kept firmly on the international agenda. In particular, globalisation brings fresh impetus to the need to forge alliances between the trade union movement and NGOs concerned with social and economic development. While there is plenty of evidence of successful cooperation, major problems, fears, suspicions, and at times hostilities remain between them. Some of these are substantial and sharp policy differences, but others are the consequence of colliding political or organisational cultures, prejudices, financial competition, and a mutual lack of understanding of respective roles and objectives. Debates surrounding the organisation of workers in the informal economy, including the ILO discussion in June 2002, provide a useful case study.

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