New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has brought a huge excitement to politics – and to the Labour Party. Like many MPs, she’s an E tū member.
Jacinda, like her predecessor Andrew Little, is a proud unionist. She first joined a union as a teenager working in a supermarket.
“I have distinct memories of sitting up in the staffroom with the handful of members who didn’t feel too afraid to join the union, and I remember us talking about politics and how we could make it easier – on a range of issues, including employment issues,” Jacinda says.
That job was also her first experience of a bad employer trying to bully workers. When new checkouts were causing issues for checkout operators she made sure her colleagues were reporting any injuries in the incident log, only to have her boss rip out the pages in front of her.
“It was a real lesson for me about the need to stand up, even if it was a scary experience,” she says.
She’s been a union member ever since and she’s proud of what our union has achieved together.
“It’s all in the name, isn’t it? E tū. I can really see the value of us joining together and I think we’ve gone from strength to strength. It’s forward-thinking.”
She’s particularly proud of the work our union has done for pay equity and says we need to keep promoting that as much as possible. She also wants to pay a special tribute to Kristine Bartlett.
“In every speech about pay equity I have continually referred to her as a modern-day hero. She will go down in history.”
Jacinda says that the “future of work” is the next frontier for the New Zealand union movement. In the face of automation and transforming industries, she is committed to a significant and resilient approach to it.
“In the past, we’ve been trying to predict where the changes in our labour market will be. I think instead of going down that track it’s not about just predicting but instead preparing our workforce.
“That’s a dominant theme for us – life-long learning, skills training, education on the job and out of the job is critical. I think we need to turn all of our economic discussions towards talking about what we are doing to upskill our workforce.”
E tū is campaigning hard for our fellow union member Jacinda Ardern to be our next Prime Minister. As her campaign slogan instructs: Let’s Do This!