WHAT BETTER TIME could there be to talk about Kiwi workers’ rights than in the days following Helen Kelly’s death? Who has contributed more to this discussion than the NZ Council of Trade Unions’ (CTU) first female President? And what other contemporary New Zealand trade unionist’s passing could have left such large and stylish shoes to fill?
Few would dispute that Kelly was by far the best leader that the CTU has so far produced. The way she was able to combine rock-solid principle with PR smarts made her the labour movement’s most effective twenty-first century union boss. Though she couldn’t quite match the Unite union’s Matt McCarten at street-level campaigning, Kelly’s keen intellect and her winning ways with the news media allowed her to keep the ideals of trade unionism alive in an era notoriously hostile to the claims of collectivism. Bowalley Road