Robin Pagnamenta
The Times

The gloom surrounding this year’s World Economic Forum descended into confrontation yesterday as international labour leaders launched a withering attack on the 1,400 business executives and 41 heads of government at Davos over what the labour leaders alleged was their failure to respond effectively to a deepening crisis of their own creation.

Guy Ryder, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said that the current financial turmoil had triggered a social timebomb that would lead to deepening civil unrest and soaring crime.

The comments from the confederation, which represents 168 million workers in 157 countries, are the most ferocious example yet of a backlash that has persuaded many who attend frequently to stay away from Davos this year. Yesterday Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, became the latest political figure to stay away from the meeting, after a similar move by David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary.

Mr Ryder, speaking as strikes involving hundreds of thousands of workers erupted across France and Germany, told The Times: “We are on the road to serious social instability, which could be extremely dangerous in some countries to democracy itself.”

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