Robert Reid to lead NDU

Written By: - Date published: 4:45 pm, July 7th, 2009 - 6 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags: , ,


Robert Reid

As has been expected for some time, the National Distribution Union has announced that its President, Robert Reid, will be taking over as National Secretary from Laila Harre in August.

Harre will leave with a stronger union than she found it, and will probably be remembered best for the epic Progressive lockout, as well as the not so glamorous but equally important organising campaign at The Warehouse.

She’ll also be leaving the union in good hands. Robert Reid’s a solid unionist with more than thirty-five years in the movement. The transition should be pretty seamless, Reid’s had a very hands-on leadership role in the union over the last couple of years and he’s highly regarded in the movement. A natural choice for the position really.

It’s understood that Laila is moving into an HR-related role with the new Auckland Transition Agency relating to the integration of the city councils into the new supercity. There’s a lot of redundancies and upheaval tipped in that area so I’m glad it’s someone from our side of the fence handling it. But this is definitely no quiet retirement.

6 comments on “Robert Reid to lead NDU”

  1. toad 1

    Yay Robert! Good on you mate!

    As for Laila, it has to be a huge challenge. I really hope she can minimise the hurt that will inevitably come to loyal council employees who will be potentially shafted by this ideologically driven “Supercity” plan.

    Not exactly sure what Laila’s job description is, but I hope she can also have a role in ensuring that whatever happens preserves, or improves, local democracy in Auckland.

    She has a great track record, and I cannot imagine she will sell out either council workers or democratic input.

  2. Rex Widerstrom 2

    I’m slightly surprised that Harre is taking another step away from politics (though undoubtedly any job in the “new” Auckland will be political, one doesn’t usually hear HR people commenting)… it seems like her natural environment.

    She’s one of the handful of people who, regardless of any congruence of views, I’ve long admired for their intelligence and determination… and a refreshing lack of belief that the whole exercise was about her, rather than the people she represented.

    Those are qualities that are becoming rarer with each new intake of politicians and other holders of public office (I’m not getting at Reid here, I don’t know the man, just speaking generally).

    I know Harre gets some who start positively foaming at the mention of her name (a measure of her success, if only they were self-aware enough to realise it) but I take the view that an intelligent, articulate, hard-working promoter of policy – even if one vehemently opposes everything they stand for – is worth a dozen shallow, trough-gobbling media whores.

    • gingercrush 2.1

      Good post Rex. As a right-wing I can’t subscribe to many of her views. But both as a politician, a political commentator and even her role in the NDU. I have found her to be a credible person. I wasn’t very impressed with many in the Alliance, but she was one person that I certainly missed in parliament from 2002 onwards. Her type of politics is almost non-existant now days. Sure, the Greens in some ways hold up many of the values. They just don’t have a message that tends to resonate with working class urbanites. While, Labour seems to have become more pro-worker now they’re in opposition. They’re so quick to change their spots that I suspect much won’t change.

      To be honest, I’m not sure why the unions stick so closely to Labour when it would appear to me at least they’re often beating down on the very organisations that support them.

      • Wayne 2.1.1

        When does Labour “beat down” on the unions? They passed heaps of pro-worker legislation when they were last in government.

        Laila’s okay, but I think she was overrated. Could be very sectarian, and as anyone who’s worked with her will tell you she’s very difficult personally. I think the main reason the right liked her was she was anti-Labour since she always wanted to get her “true” workers’ party set up with Matt McCarten.

  3. The trade union movement is a broad church politically but there are some basic lines you simply don’t cross – implementing redundancies (sorry “change management”) or advising the bosses on how to go about doing so is certainly one of those!

    As a former NDU delegate who campaigned for Laila to get the position of National Secretary back in 2005 I have to say I feel very disappointed and let down by her decision.

  4. Daveo 4

    Yeah, like an old comrade of mine said “HR and change management? Isn’t that something bosses do to workers”?

    Apparently she’s been put in there as damage control because the Nats are worried the redundancies caused by the super city merger could blow up into a major political issue.

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