TUC leaders call for workers' rights in Wisconsin

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Solidarity with US unions

We are one campaign

4 April 2011

As part of the TUC's support for the US trade union movement's campaign to defend collective bargaining rights for public sector workers, we are publishing information on the background to the campaign every day in the fortnight before our day of solidarity on Monday 4 April.

Today, the leadership of the British trade union movement have written to the US Ambassador to Britain calling for the right to collectively bargain for public sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

The Honorable Louis B Susman
Ambassador
US Embassy
24 Grosvenor Square
London W1A 1AE

Dear Ambassador

Solidarity with US workers and unions

This letter records the solidarity of British workers and their unions with our sisters and brothers in Wisconsin and many other US states, who are fighting to preserve their right to collective bargaining.

The right to bargain collectively with your employer is a fundamental human right, recognised by the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations. We welcome the support shown by Amnesty International (including the US and UK branches) for this principle, which is under sustained political attack in Wisconsin and beyond.

The TUC and British trade unions would strongly urge you to convey our concerns about what is happening in the USA to the President, and to the Governor of Wisconsin and any other Governor who is attempting to take away workers' rights to bargain collectively.

We understand that public budgets are under pressure in the USA - as they are in the UK - as a result of the global economic crisis. But attacking collective bargaining is exactly the wrong thing to do in response.

The workers who depend most on collective bargaining for decent living standards did not cause the crisis, and should not have to pay for it.

But the declining wages and the increasing inequality which has resulted from the steady erosion of collective bargaining especially in the USA but across the developed world certainly did play a part in causing the global economic crisis.

To escape from that crisis, working people, their families and their communities, will need better living standards, not worse, and more equal societies, not less.

Collective bargaining is far and away the best way to improve workers' living standards, so as well as being a fundamental human right, it is vital to the economic wellbeing of countries like the USA and the UK.

I hope you will share our commitment to defending the right to bargain collectively. As Vice President Joe Biden told the AFLCIO on 17 March, 'We absolutely, positively need collective bargaining.'

Yours sincerely

BRENDAN BARBER

General Secretary

Supported by:

  • Sally Hunt, TUC International Spokesperson and General Secretary, UCU
  • Michael Leahy, TUC President and General Secretary, Community
  • Christine Blower, General Secretary, NUT
  • John Hannett, General Secretary, USDAW
  • Billy Hayes, General Secretary, CWU
  • Chris Keates, General Secretary, NASUWT
  • Paul Kenny, General Secretary, GMB
  • Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite
  • Paul Noon, General Secretary, Prospect
  • Dave Prentis, General Secretary, Unison
  • Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS
Briefing
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