Green Party praise for Helen Kelly

The Green Party has praised retiring New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) President Helen Kelly, who steps down today after eight years in the union leadership role.

“Since I have been an MP I have had the pleasure of working closely with Helen in promoting the rights of working New Zealanders and resisting the National Party’s attacks on unions,” Green Party Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Denise Roche said.

“Helen has been a delight to work with.

“The Green Party thanks Helen for her leadership, her advocacy and her courageous spirit.

“Throughout her working life Helen has made a huge contribution to social justice and improving the lot of hard-working New Zealanders, even putting herself forward as a union delegate on her first day of work as a teacher.

“She has provided outstanding leadership of the NZCTU, and before that the Association of University Staff and the New Zealand Educational Institute.

“In Helen’s eight years at the NZCTU helm, the union movement has faced savage attacks by the National Government on working people, including the 90 day fire at will law, undermining collective bargaining and the watering down of health and safety legislation, but it is testament to her capacity to build unity that the union movement is still standing and fighting for the rights of working New Zealanders.    

“Helen helped transform and modernise the union movement, championing the apparently controversial idea that working New Zealanders shouldn’t be pointlessly killed in their workplaces and have a right to return home alive and healthy at the end of the day.

“The forestry safety campaign Helen headed up has resulted in a reduction in serious harm forestry accidents by 60% in a little over a year.

“The circumstances under which Helen is standing down as NZCTU President are saddening, but it is a reflection of her strength that she is committed to remaining politically active even in declining health.”