VUWSA has caved into the New Zealand Union of Students’ Association’s demands, paying the national body its outstanding membership fees and agreeing in principle to hold a referendum on its continued membership.
In September 2014 the Executive decided to withdraw from NZUSA. This followed a 2013 student-initiated referendum on whether VUWSA should remain a member. 63 per cent of students voted “Yes, but only with reforms”—however, there was no straight “Yes” option. The Executive claimed reform hadn’t occurred and that this gave them a mandate to withdraw without holding a further referendum.
With NZUSA’s constitution requiring members to give 12 months’ notice of withdrawal, the national body has continued to invoice VUWSA for its $45,000 annual membership fee. VUWSA had intended to withhold over $20,000, and budgeted accordingly. But with NZUSA threatening court action, and legal advice that VUWSA would lose, the Executive has brought itself up to date with payments.
if the rules of NZUSA say you must give 12 months notice to quit (and they do) and VUWSA signed up to those rules, then they should pay the levies for that year.
The payment follows a secret meeting between the VUWSA Executive and NZUSA President Rory McCourt on 11 May. At this meeting, McCourt tried to persuade the Executive of the continued need for a unified national body. He described the meeting as “positive”, although he also delivered a legal threat over the fee.
After hashing out an agreement in private, the Executive voted on the proposal at an official meeting on 4 June. Salient, which is usually invited to all Executive meetings, was not told of the meeting or sent an agenda.
VUWSA has chalked this up to an administrative error. However, insiders have also confirmed that the 11 May meeting with NZUSA was deliberately concealed from Salient and no official record of the meeting exists.
Secret meetings which exclude the media, and lying to Salient about it – not a good look.
However, many within VUWSA also believe that McCourt, a former VUWSA President, has actively whipped up resentment toward VUWSA in an attempt to pressure the association into paying—a strategy that appears to have worked.
This year, Labour MPs including David Cunliffe and David Clark have spoken out against the exodus from NZUSA, and the perception within VUWSA is that it is losing the media battle.
Labour MPs pressuring student associations to remain members of NZUSA. I think that indicates how Labour sees NZUSA as part of the Labour family.