Labour's botched intern scheme planned on union funding

Newshub has obtained internal documents outlining Labour's ambitious plans to put foreign students to work on its campaign.

The draft plan shows the party needed to find $270,000 in funding to pull it off and was banking on unions to fund a lot of it.

The budgeting was based on 100 students staying for an average of eight weeks. The cost of feeding and housing them in motorhomes was estimated at $240,000, with an operational budget of $30,000 for petrol, venues and AT HOP cards.

The documents show the organisers hoped to receive funding from First and Unite unions ($100,000), "white collar unions" ($50,000), and Union Trust ($25,000).

The plan was to get E tū and "other appropriate unions" on board too.

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) was also to be involved in management of the project, and while Labour has been distancing itself from the project, the documents explicitly states: "The programme and certification is the responsibility of Labour."

But CTU national secretary Sam Huggard says the plan was never shared with them, and the CTU actually turned down a request to manage the interns.

"We've never seen this document and the CTU was not involved as described. I presume this was an early proposal document of some sort," he told Newshub.

"Matt [McCarten] asked CTU to run the worker aspect of Campaign for Change on the 12th of May this year, but we declined."

Gerard Hehir, Secretary of Unite, said: "We had some discussions with Matt but there was no funding and no promises."

Robert Reid, General Secretary of First Union, said it had not provided any funding: "There'd been discussions but no formal request."

The document also references a "Union Trust" but unions spoken to by Newshub could not identify this.

On top of the anticipated union cash injections, a huge fundraising drive was planned - including holding 24 fundraising dinners, selling more than 1000 raffle tickets, bringing in donations of an extra $200 a day and recruiting 800 additional members.

The students were to sell the raffle tickets - 15 a week each, which would bring in $96,000.

A less expensive plan was also outlined, in which half of the students would be billeted.

The cost of that came in at $148,000 plus operational costs. It would have required less of a fundraising drive, but still relied on union funding.

On Thursday, Labour leader Andrew Little fronted up about the party's intern scheme which got "wildly out of control".  

"I have to say it is embarrassing for the party, of course it is," he conceded.

"I am disappointed that they've been let down, but right now the priority is to fix that up, look after them, make sure they're okay and work out what do from there."

On top of the students, the scheme required numerous roles to oversee it. More than 25 roles ranging from project managers to "raffles manager" were envisaged.


This story was amended on 28 June. The first version of this story suggested that the Campaign for Change’s plan was finalised when it was only a draft plan and union funding had not been secured.