Major changes at one of New Zealand’s largest trade unions
Where: Papatoetoe Cosmopolitan Club, Rangitoto Rd, Papatoetoe
When: Thursday November 9 from 3pm
What: Union leaders deliver their retirement speeches
FIRST Union, the union representing 27,500 New Zealanders in retail, finance and transport and logistics, is undergoing major changes as its President, General Secretary and Retail and Finance Secretary deliver their retirement speeches in Auckland this afternoon.
FIRST Union, headquartered in Ōnehunga, is well-known for taking on Cotton On over the soon-to-be-repealed “tea break law”, for advocating on behalf of migrant workers and the victims of education trafficking, and for working with communities to help keep their bank branches open.
In the last six months the union helped expose dangerous working conditions at the popular second-hand retailer Savemart.
“The outgoing leadership team and I are proud that, after nine years of a National government, our membership grew by 28 percent. Nine years later our union is more than 5000 members stronger than it was when National took office in 2008,” said outgoing General Secretary Robert Reid.
Reid, a South Auckland local who is also a prominent political commentator for TVNZ, joins outgoing President Syd Keepa, a prominent Māori community leader known for his role in bringing iwi and unions together to help end the meat workers dispute in 2013, outgoing Retail and Finance Secretary Maxine Gay, also a South Auckland local and former president of the Trade Union Federation, and National Organiser Bill Bradford, the prominent political activist.
“We spent the last nine years swimming against the tide,” Reid added.
FIRST Union’s leadership positions are elected and the incoming team begin their four year term from November 9.
The new leadership team includes General Secretary Dennis Maga, Assistant General Secretary Louisa Jones, Retail and Finance Secretary Tali Williams and Transport and Logistics Secretary Jared Abbott.
Central Region Secretary Sheryl Cadman and Southern Central Secretary Paul Watson will remain in their positions while Greg Fitzpatrick continues as Operations Manager.
Outgoing General Secretary Robert Reid will take up the President’s position for two years while outgoing President Syd Keepa will take up the position of FIRST Union Kaumātua.
“The team and I are proud of what we’ve achieved over the last nine years, including negotiating average wage increases of 3 percent for our members, an increase well above the national average over this time,” said Reid.