The Spark December 2010 - January 2011
Mike Kay, an editor of The Spark, caught up with Mike Treen, National Director of Unite just after its first national delegates conference on 25-26 November, which was followed by a one day political conference.
The Spark: This was the first national Unite conference. Why did you decide to take that step now?
MT: From our point of view it’s a bit of a coming of age of Unite. The Auckland project was started 5-6 years ago based on the transformation of an already existing union with a small membership of 100-200 members, a place where, on a voluntary basis, some union officials were giving support to workers who were unable to get representation through traditional union structures. The structure of that organisation no longer fits Unite today. We now have 8000 financial members, broad industry representation and membership engagement and involvement is through the delegates. Given the character of the industries we work in, with a high turnover, we depend all the more on the delegates for communication, mobilisation and so on. We were unsuccessful in general membership meetings, except for a few workplaces. So the most democratic aspect of membership input is through the delegates, so we decided to base the democratic decision-making structure through a national delegates conference, and even, ambitiously, to project doing that every year. Read the rest of this entry »