Wayne Butson is the general secretary of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union – a position he has held since 1999. As General Secretary of the largest specialist transport union in New Zealand he is a frequent contributor to news and current affairs programmes and is often consulted by MPs from the left (and less frequently from right) regarding New Zealand’s Port and Rail sector, rail history, the source of its current woes and ideas for a future with a thriving rail network.
He began his union involvement when he joined rail in 1974 in Invercargill, starting at the bottom and working his way to grade 1 locomotive engineer based in Wellington. In 1990 he slipped sideways to become a full time union organiser and begin his heartfelt fight for workers’ rights – a mission he hasn’t let slip since.
He was schooled at Southland College and Waitaki Boys High before studying for a diploma in industrial relations at Victoria University and other further education qualifications. He is a member of the Institute of Directors, holds a certificate in company direction and hold current directorships and trusteeships.
His knowledge of the NZ rail and port sectors, his commitment to a fair go for workers and his dogged determination to fight for the under-dog has been recognised in many forums and working parties in New Zealand and overseas.
When he has time to relax you may find him either salt water or freshwater or boating.
He is married with two daughters and, quite recently, welcomed his first grandchild.