Robert Reid

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Robert Reid

Robert Reid is the National Secretary of the National Distribution Union in New Zealand. He used to be the Union's president until he took over the role from Laila Harre in August 2009.[1]

In 2018, General Secretary at National Dstribution Union.


Robert Reid first met Rona Bailey when he arrived in Wellington in 1972 as a 19-year-old International vice-president on the New Zealand University Students Association and worked with her on the Committee on Vietnam and on various anti-apartheid groups. He became part of The Paper Group with Rona and later both were key members of Wellington Marxist Leninist Organisation which eventually became the Workers Communist League.[2]

Union career

Between 1974 and 1984 Reid was a member of the Engineers’ Union; a delegate from 1975, executive member from 1976 and its representative on the Wellington Trades Council. Between 1984 and 1992 he was a member of the Clerical Workers Union during which time he worked for the Wellington District Council of the CTU as its Industry and Employment Officer from 1987 and then Central Districts Organiser between 1988 and 1992.

When the Clerical Workers’ Union disbanded in 1993 Robert founded the Administrative and General Workers’ Union which together with the Unemployed Rights Centre became UNITE in 1998. He was the founding president of UNITE until 2007. Through much of the 1990s he was also national secretary of the Footwear Workers Union until it merged with the Clothing Workers Union.

On a broader scale he was council member and the international officer of the Trade Union Federation (TUF) for its period of existence. He became a council member of the NZ Council of Trade Unions following its merger with the TUF in 2000. Internationally he has been co-ordinator of Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Links and chairperson of Transnational Information Exchange (Asia).[3]


2001 - Initial Sponsors of ARENA, Dr Jane Kelsey, Professor of Law, Auckland University; Moana Jackson, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Porou; Maxine Gay, President, NZ Trade Union Federation; Cherryl Waerea-i te-rangi Smith, Ngati Apa, Ngati Kahungunu, Te Aitanga A Hauiti; Robert Reid, Campaign Coordinator, Jubilee 2000 Aotearoa; Radha D’Souza, APEC Monitoring Group; Aziz Choudry, Coordinator, GATT Watchdog; Annette Sykes, Ngati Pikiao; Bill Rosenberg, CAFCA; Leigh Cookson, GATT Watchdog; David Small, Senior Lecturer in Education, University of Canterbury; Gillian Southey; Joe Davies, Coordinator, East Timor Independence Centre Otautahi; Murray Horton, CAFCA; Trish Murray; GATT Watchdog; Aotearoa/New Zealand APEC Monitoring Group; NZ Trade Union Federation; PSNA; Christian World Service; CAFCA.

NZ Committee to Free the Cuban Five

Circa 2009, the list of Initiating Members and Supporters of the New Zealand Committee to Free the Cuban Five, included Robert Reid, National President National Distribution Union, Wellington.[4]

US Embassy letter/Cuban 5

On 6 April 2009 US Embassy in Wellington refused to accept a hand delivered letter from MPs, City Councillors, trade unionists, church leaders,academics and other New Zealanders calling on the US Government not to oppose the petition to the US Supreme Court for the release of the Cuban 5.

An attempt to deliver the letter was made by Wellington City Councillor, Ray Ahipene-Mercer and Secretary of the Weliington Cuba Friendship Society Gillian Magee but US Embassy Guards said they would not accept a hand delivered letter.[5]

Dear Attorney General Holder
We, the undersigned New Zealanders are writing this letter to you on the eve of the US Government submitting a brief in response to the 30 January 09 petition to the Supreme Court and the twelve separate amicus curiae briefs that were filed in the US Supreme Court on 6 March 2009 regarding the unjust incarceration of five Cuban citizens - Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, René González Sehweret, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort - known as the Cuban 5.
We urge the United States Government to acknowledge that a complete miscarriage of justice has taken place regarding the Cuban 5 and to support, rather than oppose, a review of the conviction by the Supreme Court. We urge you to immediately release the Cuban 5.

Signatories included Robert Reid.

"Cuban 5"

Auckland, 15th of June 2013. A group of Cuban residents in this city joined the political-cultural evening organized by the Cuban Friendship Association in supporting worldwide efforts for the release of the Five. Daniel Gallo Villalon, Raudell Conte Morales and Ricardo Izquierdo Pestana Ricardo Morales shared the emotional journey with union leaders, former MP Keith Locke, members of the Communist League, renowned writers, poets and artists of New Zealand, and the Ambassador and Councilor of the Cuban Embassy and the general public.

Cuban residents also took the stage to contribute songs to the evening of Cuban solidarity. Speaking on the case of the five were the Cuban Ambassador Maria del Carmen Herrera Caseiro, the Former MP Keith Locke and First Union General Secretary Robert Reid.

The occasion was also conducive to the sharing of a lively exchange on various issues between Cubans resident and the Ambassador and Councilor Manuel Sánchez Oliva.[6]

Cuban Embassy connection


Auckland Cuba comrades


Robert Reid, Mike Treen, Annalucia Vermunt and Gillian Magee.

Greeting Filipino delegation

Auckland Philippines Solidarity March 21, 2018; ·


With Bryce Hamilton, Oliver Christeller, Romy Udanga, Robert Reid and Daphna Whitmore, Luke Coxon.

External links