CTU faces the challenges
In her opening speech to the CTU Biennial Conference - Workers Rights in the 21st Century - President, Helen Kelly highlighted the importance of workers' rights in order to address inequality and promote fairness.
Helen Kelly issued a message to unions "our challenge is not just to fight for improvements in workers' rights, but in the process to build and innovate from what we have. That means we need to be advocates for change in general - and within our own movement. We need to focus not just on failures in the economy and Government policy but also be tough on ourselves."
TOGETHER, the new union run by the CTU unions, for workers who are currently not able to access membership, is a strong focus of the conference under the banner of union change.
"We have plans through TOGETHER to support affiliated unions to take on new organising opportunities - to work as a movement to support those unions in retail, in construction, in the rural sector to develop capacity and to organise in these sectors. We need to ask the question, as a union movement, do we want workers in retail to be organised, to have the privilege of union membership and collective bargaining, if the answer is yes - they are our kids, they are our family members - they are us - then we now have a plan to do that and that is what union change is about."
"I am looking forward to the next two years. I am optimistic that we have tremendous unity and great plans. I know we New Zealanders are decent people with good values that are proud to be part of a community and that care about each other. I know the union movement is a valued part of that community and adds real value to the debate, to working people's lives, to the preservation of notions such as equality and fairness. We have a great new movement of young people running their own campaigns and bringing lots of energy and we have wonderful committed experienced union members, delegates and staff contributing to our work at every level."
The conference marks 100 days until the election and campaigning is a focus of the conference. Helen Kelly said "in this election year, working New Zealanders have a clear choice about what they vote for. We know people are concerned about unemployment, job security, incomes, the cost of living, privatisation and equality. We know that this Government if re-elected will be bad on all these fronts. We know that if this were an election on what each party might do if in Government next time then parties like Labour and the Greens would get much more support than National with its plans. Our job leading up to this election must be to get people on the roll and motivated to vote and to make sure they vote on the "what" and not simply because National is hiding behind Mr Key."
Helen Kelly was elected unopposed for a further four year term as CTU President. Peter Conway, CTU Secretary, Richard Wagstaff, CTU Vice President and Syd Keepa, VP Maori were also re-elected to their positions.