Human rights under attack in Wisconsin, USA
The Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, is attempting to take away one of the fundamental human rights (as recognised by the UN and the International Labour Organisation) of his own workforce: the right to bargain collectively. Unions across the US have been demonstrating in the state capital, Madison, pretty much continuously for weeks, and there is a special States of Denial website about the issue.
Using the excuse of a budget deficit (which he helped create by cutting taxes on the rich), he is seeking to stop unions representing state workers – teachers, nurses, snowplough drivers and refuse collectors – from bargaining over wages, pensions and other issues.
Yet the unions have offered to take an 8% cut in wages and benefits to help solve the crisis, so people around the US and beyond are fairly clear Walker's move is actually an attack not just on human rights, but on democracy itself. The unions are big supporters of the Democratic Party, Walker's opponents.
So, it's not particularly surprising that the Wisconsin trade unionists have received support from across the US (including Amnesty International USA), from the TUC, and from the new, independent trade unions in Egypt - who know where attacks on democracy and human rights lead.
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