Helen would aways say to me, “tell their stories”.
Helen was convinced that if the rest of NZ could see the stories of workers and the terrible work conditions they were forced to endure, then NZers innate goodness would generate empathy and demand change.
Helen fought her entire life for the workers of this country, it was immensely angering that she couldn’t get the cannabis medicine she needed in her final months.
5 years since Helen Kelly died and her passing still hangs like a giant black hole over the entire Union movement.
The Wellington Union Conclave today are more focused on woke policing of language and Identity Politics dogma than class struggle. With PSA domination middle class virtue signaling trumps Revolution every day of the week.
At its high-point, under the late, and sorely missed, Helen Kelly, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) liked to present itself as the largest democratic organisation in New Zealand. With upwards of 300,000 affiliated members, that claim was no idle boast. As Kelly proved, the CTU has always possessed the potential to do an enormous amount of good.
So, where has it been? Why hasn’t its current president, Richard Wagstaff, become a household name during the pandemic? Up there with Ashley Bloomfield, Michael Baker, Shaun Hendy and Siouxsie Wiles? Where was the tireless advocacy for essential workers: the people who stood at the check-out counters, drove the trucks and operated the warehouses? When supermarket workers came under attack from the stupid and the selfish, why were they defended with more passion by their bosses, than by the CTU?
…Helen Kelly wouldn’t have put up with the glib asthetics of wokedom, there was too much work to be done at the coal front than arguing over pronoun use.
Luckily for the insipid Union movement, the ghost of Helen returns with the Fair Pay Agreement which she wrote and went far further in building worker power via universal Union membership than anything the CTU was offering.
Helen Kelly is still saving the Union movement!
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