Originally published in the March 2011 issue of The Spark.
At the end of January the Workers Party held its major internal meetings in Christchurch to guide the future strategy of the organisation.
Party structure changes
In terms of changing and developing party structures we did the following:
• Altered the leadership body and renamed it ‘Representative Committee’.
• Combined The Spark production team and the website committee.
• Combined the positions of national organiser and national secretary.
• Elected a discipline and disputes committee.
• Endorsed a new national recruitment officer position within the leadership body.
• Held membership criteria discussion. Membership categories to be fully decided by end of June 6, 2011.
• Held dues/finance discussion. National dues structure to be fully decided by end of June 6, 2011.
Elections to leadership positions
We elected members into relevant national positions. Two members who had held national leadership positions decided to not stand for re- election, those positions were national organiser and national secretary.
Rebecca Broad was elected to the merged national organiser/national secretary position. Broad has industrial experience in both the meat industry and stores/ hoist operating and was the first woman elected to the National Distribution Union executive from the Transport, Energy and Stores sector. Within our organisation Broad has previously been finance officer and has laid out The Spark on a monthly basis for four years. In party work she also led the membership campaign to register on the party list for the 2008 general elections, gained the party’s highest ever vote in the 2007 Waitakere mayoral campaign, and co-led our organisation’s participation in the campaign to free Iranian detainees from Mt. Eden prison.
Joel Cosgrove, a former Student Union president, was elected to the new role of national recruitment officer. Cosgrove has a strong record in party recruitment. The role has been established to refine and expand recruitment strategy.
Leadership positions that have been retained are national education officer (John Edmundson), national industrial officer (Mike Kay), The Spark coordinating editor (Jared Phillips). John Edmundson has also been elected as second coordinating editor of The Spark.
Branch organisers also comprise the Representative Committee. Since the late January internal meetings Kassie Hartendorp has been elected as Wellington branch organiser and Mike Walker has been elected as Christchurch Branch organiser. Former branch organisers Joel Cosgrove (Wellington) and Byron Clark (Christchurch) have shifted focus to other areas of party work. Rebecca Broad has retained Hamilton branch organiser role, and Mike Kay is to rebuild the Auckland presence which has been affected by two resignations and other members moving to more of a support-member role.
The discipline and disputes committee has been formed to provide a body separate from the Representative Committee which will be able to address serious internal disputes or serrious matters of individual indiscipline. This is currently an interim body, to be formalised in June, consisting of Kassie Hartendorp, Paul Hopkinson, and Josh Glue.
The Worker’s Party role in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Solidarity campaign continues to be led nationally by Paul Hopkinson and Mike Walker.
Since our national internal meeting there have been resignations by four long-standing party members. (For clarification, none attended the national internal meetings). We received a joint-letter of resignation on February 4 from the previous national organiser, national secretary, and two other party activists with strong standing within the organisation. They have concluded that party building is not viable in the conditions of downturn of working class struggle. We understand that the intention of both party members and those who have resigned is to maintain working relationships in various campaigns.
National conference 2011
We have decided to hold our national public conference over Queen’s Birthday (June 3 – June 5) in Hamilton. This is the main national event that we are now working towards. We will also be working on internal consolidation leading up to the internal part of that conference on June 6.
In 2008 the Workers Party signed up around 700 members so that we could register a party list for that year’s general election (a party requires 500 members, which is audited, to stand a party list). The lack of any real results from that campaign has confirmed to us that it was a superficial form of building. We had an understanding of this at the time but had internal agreement to go ahead with it as part of experimenting with strategies which may help with rebuilding the radical Marxist left. It is still within possibility that we may stand some candidates in electorates this year.