Union Leaders Pay Tribute to former NZ union leader Helen Kelly

Domestic and international trade union leaders have paid tribute to former President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Helen Kelly, who died overnight following a battle with cancer at the age of 52.

Kelly was well known in trade union circles as a strong advocate for working men and women everywhere.


Local media reports today said Kelly rose to national prominence fighting for safer conditions in the forestry and mining sectors following deaths at Pike River Mine in 2010 and a string of logging fatalities. 

Kelly drove around the country to support victims' families and spearheaded court cases fighting for accountability for those workers' deaths.

Kelly resigned from the CTU in October 2015, eight months after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, despite having never smoked.

While undergoing chemotherapy, Kelly kept campaigning for the right to die with dignity and the right to use medicinal cannabis to combat pain and nausea.

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin told the MUA National Council in Sydney that Kelly remained dignified to the very end, paying tribute to her influential role in the long-running Ports of Auckland dispute. 

"Helen was acutely aware of the tremendously demanding challenges to unions and workers not just in her own country but around the world,” Crumlin said.

“In the Ports of Auckland dispute there wasn’t anybody  more committed or more determined to get those wharfies back in the gate.
"After being diagnosed with cancer, Helen faced up to it with such courage and determination and remained dignified and always accepting of the great difficulties.
“Helen is a great loss to the movement, a great loss to her family, and also our holistic campaign to create a more decent and functional world."
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary S