Rachel was elected CTU Vice-President in 2015. She is an Assistant National Secretary at E tū, Aotearoa’s largest private sector union.
Rachel’s involvement in the union movement began when she was working as a copy-editor in the publishing industry and became site delegate for the EPMU. She started as an EPMU official in 2003. As an organiser, she worked across media and manufacturing industries. She co-ordinated the EPMU’s plastics industry strategy for several years, before moving into union leadership.
As CTU Vice-President, Rachel works with members of Te Rūnanga and the National Affiliates Council, to foster te Tiriti relationships across the union movement. She has worked with the largest public sector unions to negotiate Gender Pay Principles for the broad public service, and was a key worker representative at the International Labour Organisation for the negotiation of a major international convention, the Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 (No190).
The role of the union in anti-racism
"Systemic racism remains a major barrier for Māori. It manifest as fewer opportunities in education at mahi; discrimination in recruitment practices, unsafe work environments or ethnic wage inequities. A lifetime of poorer labour market outcomes means that some older Māori remain in mahi out of necessity. Some Māori groups experience persistent and intersecting barriers. These groups include wāhine, tāngata whaikaha, members of the LGBTQI+ and takatāpui community, and older Māori.
The union movement has historically made significant contributions to progressive social change in this country and around the world. They are the powerhouse behind the eight-hour working day, workplace health and safety and continue to champion parental leave and pay equity.
BUT what is the role of the public sector and private sector union movement in challenging racism and upholding Te Tiriti within the workplace, within the health, education and criminal justice systems and beyond? What are unions currently doing in this space? What is the potential of the union contribution in this space? Is Te Tiriti o Waitangi being embraced by unions and union delegates? What are the roles of Māori and Tauiwi in this space? How can we protect the special interests of casual migrant workers in the context of global capitalism? With so much happening at home what should be our contribution be to the global movement for racial justice? How do we protect those that speak up?
This fireside chat brings together union leaders to have a constructive free and frank conversation about where the union movement is at with these powerful questions. Bring your own questions to this interactive session."