CTU MEDIA RELEASE
8 April 2009
Helen Clark a Good Friend to Workers
Helen Clark is a good friend to workers says Helen Kelly, CTU President.
On the occasion of Helen Clark’s valedictory statement, Helen Kelly said today that “Helen Clark is a principled leader who stood on a platform of social democracy, independent foreign policy and investment in people and communities”.
Helen Kelly said that there is a long list of achievements from the nine years that Helen Clark was Prime Minister but she was well-known to unionists long before then. Helen would attend many union conferences and meet face to face with workers up and down the country. She continued this as Prime Minister and met literally thousands of workers in the 2000-2008 period.
“Of course” said Helen Kelly, “we did not agree with the Labour-led Government on every issue. There were many debates at CTU-Government forums. But they were usually about the pace of change rather than the direction”.
Unionists value so much of what was delivered in this period – sharp reductions in unemployment and public debt, better pay for nurses, teachers and many others, a higher minimum wage, a huge lift in industry training, KiwiSaver, Working for Families, paid parental leave, better health and safety laws, cheaper doctors’ visits and prescriptions, and of course the scrapping of the Employment Contracts Act.
“And no-one should underestimate”, said Helen Kelly, “the courage of Helen Clark’s convictions when she said New Zealand would not follow the USA, Great Britain and Australia in sending combat troops into Iraq”.
Helen Kelly said that Helen Clark was a true champion for New Zealand who was prepared to make the hard calls.
“We wish her every success in her new role at the United Nations and say ‘thank you’ Helen for everything you have done for workers.