Obama rails against state labour laws


US president Barack Obama yesterday threw his support behind trade unions opposed to a Republican-led drive for "right-to-work" laws in Michigan, saying efforts to pass such measures were not about economics but about politics.

Mr Obama used a visit to a car plant in the cradle of the American labour movement to weigh in on the controversial push in the state legislature to impose new restrictions on unions, part of the Democratic president's political base that helped him win re-election last month.

"What we shouldn't be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions," he said to loud cheers from workers at the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford, Michigan.

"We shouldn't be doing that.

"These so-called right-to-work laws, they don't have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics," said Mr Obama.

"What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."

Union members and others opposed to Michigan becoming a "right-to-work state" plan major protests in the state capital, Lansing, this week.

Republicans are in control of the state legislature and the Republican governor is committed to sign the laws. - (Reuters)