US state election - a warning for us all
7th June 2012
CWU head of international affairs John
Baldwin has warned the union's national executive that
recent events in the US state of Wisconsin are an example of
"the growing strength and audacity of the right."
The state's Republican Party governor Scott Walker has been re-elected on a platform of attacks on workers' rights, withdrawal of collective bargaining and effective de-recognition in Wisconsin's public sector.
A huge protest movement against Mr Walker last year, led by trade unions and other civic society organisations, won a "recall ballot" - a constitutional right in the US which forces elected politicians to seek re-election.
But, as John explained in a report to the NEC, "the new ballot has resulted in a win for Walker, with him taking 53 per cent of the vote.
"This is no doubt, in part, as a result of him raising and spending at least eight times the amount of the Democrat candidate, Tom Barrett and this fresh mandate may give a new impetus to the right-wing attack on basic labour rights in the US and will buoy the Republican campaign to take the presidency."
John pointed out that the relevance of this to UK workers was clear in terms of the similarity between Mr Walker's platform and the controversial policy paper produced by Conservative Party adviser Adrian Beecroft, which proposed a new "no-fault" dismissal of workers.
"If anyone wonders what the relevance is for UK unions and workers in general you need only look at the Beecroft proposals, the recent changes to employment law and the continuing attack on union facilities in local and national government," John continued, adding: "The attacks on labour rights in countries close to home such as Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain are also part of the growing strength and audacity of the right."