The accommodation provided by the 'Campaign for Change'. Photo: Politik.
The Labour Party's 'Campaign for Change' has already run into trouble, exposed exploiting overseas students.

THE LABOUR PARTY's Campaign for Change, after a less than stellar beginning, has now turned embarrassing for Labour, and that has been admitted by leader Andrew Little.

The campaign, which is being run out of Labour's Auckland office by Little's former Chief of Staff Matt McCarten, has been exposed exploiting its workforce - namely 85 overseas students recruited by Labour to work on the campaign. But it appears that the work they have been asked to do is not what they originally signed up for.

Politik's Richard Harman reports that the students through they were signing up what he describes as a "high powered learning programme' but they have instead found themselves doing the party's donkey work.

Politik's has been provided with emails, which among other things, outlines the kind of work the students were expected to do. One email says that the students "... were told that they are broken down into teams- they will be either phone soliciting ( they've bought 30-ish Alcatel phones, and they sit in a room and call, from this marae, very disorganised, many of these people have been called already) , door knocking in regions in Auckland, or approaching universities and "unions" to recruit votes ad more volunteers. They have one day of 'training' tomorrow. There is nothing else planned for these guys as far as I am aware.”

The students are also unhappy with the accommodation they have been provided - they have been billeted on a marae. Politik says it has seen evidence of the poor accommodation including cramped dormitory alcoves, a broken and unusable shower and unfinished construction work with material piled up beside mattresses.

The students, or 'interns' as they are described, were told that while they would not be paid, "the campaign fellowship will stand out on your CV and both organisers are happy to serve as a reference upon successful completion of the fellowship.”

The students met Labour party officials on Saturday to protest about their accommodation and were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Labour has claimed that the Campaign for Change is a non-partisan and independent campaign, and also claims it has the support of several 'progressive organisations'. Those organisations have yet to be named and they may now not want to be named, given this new disclosure about how Labour has been treating its workers.

Last week the executive of E tu, the largest private sector union in New Zealand, announced it was donating $120,000 to Labour and $30,000 to the Greens for the general election in September.

According to McCarten;  “The Campaign for Change will channel the energy and passion of New Zealander’s who want to see a change of Government this election.”

But this campaign has no roots in the community. While there is clearly support for real change, there is little enthusiasm for the centrist 'business as usual' Labour Party. The fact that Labour had to recruit workers from overseas, namely unsuspecting students, to work for it only goes to highlight the lack of local enthusiasm for Andrew Little's dull and cautious Labour Party.

Note: Since this article was published, Matt McCarten has released a press statement. He says he is "no longer involved in the programme".


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