So since David Cunliffe endorsed Andrew Little I’ve had a few mates ask me about what he’s like because I helped out in a small way with his wage drive campaign way back in 2008 and met him a couple of times and I can say he’s the real deal. He’s got good left-wing values and he acts on them pragmatically.
There’s a recent article about him in the EPMU’s member mag, the metal, that I reckon is about right. You can read the whole thing here (the profile on him is on page 14).
He’s clearly a man who get straight to the guts of the matter:
We have a wage problem. We have a
problem with workers’ rights and with
how little power they have to get a fair
deal. And it’s not a new problem, it’s
one that’s been going on for decades
“We need to fix it, and we will.”
And I think he’s got what it takes to make change. He turned what used to be quite a staid union into a progressive campaigning machine in his time there. But the old guard of the movement kicked back at him with a failed attempt to roll him in 2004. It’s not really noted in the EPMU article but it’s hinted at:
He considers that critical moment, at
the end of his first term, as one of his
low points, but out of that conflict came
a united union that sat at the heart of
a renewed and invigorated movement:
starting with 2005’s “Five in ‘05”
campaign — a push to raise wages by
five percent in a year — and carrying
through a series of industrial and
political campaigns that reasserted the
rights of members and of Kiwi workers.
“The Five in ‘05 campaign has to be a
highlight of my time with the EPMU.
We hadn’t seen significant wage rises
in nearly 20 years, but the country was
going through an economic boom and
I think that a lot of people just came
to the conclusion that they deserved
After having to play defence for so long,
the concept of driving a five percent
increase in wages seemed optimistic to
some. Little remarks, “There was a bit
of scepticism from the old hands, and
a couple of the new ones, but members
in our biggest MECA, the Metals,
endorsed a five percent claim and were
willing to back it with industrial action.
“The campaign galvanised the union
movement. It was the right thing at the
Little’s a bit of a dark horse, but if he gets Labour into the fighting fit state he got the EPMU into, and I think he will, then he’s exactly what we need.