Robertson gets local union backing

By anne-marie.mcdonald@wanganuichronicle.co.nz, Anne-Marie McDonald

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Grant Robertson
Grant Robertson

Wanganui union members would like to see Grant Robertson as the next Labour Party leader, says a local union organiser.

The new leader will be announced tomorrow, after former leader David Shearer stepped down last month. Mr Robertson, David Cunliffe and Shane Jones have put their names forward to replace him.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union's Wanganui organiser, Colin Webster, said at a recent delegates forum in Palmerston North - which included those from Wanganui - the clear preference was for Grant Robertson.

For the first time, Labour Party members as well as members of the six unions affiliated to the Labour Party will have a say in who will be the new leader. Labour Party members have 40 per cent of the vote and union members 20 per cent of the vote. The remaining 40 per cent comes from Labour Party MPs.

Mr Webster said that in the central district, the New Plymouth forum had also voted for Mr Robertson, while delegates at the Napier forum preferred Mr Jones.

Mr Webster said the response to the leadership contest had been mixed.

"I'm finding that your average union member isn't that interested. There's a bit of apathy out there. But the delegates are very interested, and there's been some good strong opinions come out of the forums."

Mr Webster said delegates consulted their members on their preferences before coming to the forum. The delegates' two representatives then voted directly in the postal ballot, based on whom the delegates preferred.

He said it was appropriate that union members had a voice on Labour's new leader.

"The Labour Party came out of the union movement - it wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the unions," Mr Webster said.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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