Graeme Clarke

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Graeme Clarke is a New Zealand union leader. Manufacturing and Construction Workers Union general secretary. Former Secretary at Coachworkers Union. Worked at Todd Motors.


Studied at Victoria University of Wellington.

Ernie Abbott memorial


27 March 2014: Over a hundred people packed the lobby of Trades Hall, at 126 Vivian Street, in downtown Wellington, to commemorate the terrorist attack on the Wellington Trades Hall, thirty years ago;

The bombing, by an unidentified person, instantly killed Ernie Abbott, Vice President, Caretakers and Cleaners Union, and caretaker of the Wellington Trades Hall.

Live music, provided by the good folk of the Brass Razoo Solidarity Band (in vibrant, socialist-red);

Attendees included Grant Robertson, MP for Wellington Central; former Labour MP for “Island Bay” (now Rongotai) Electorate, Liz Tennett; and current MP for Hutt South, Trevor Mallard; Former Labour MP, Graham Kelly; Green MPs Denise Roche and Catherine Delahunty; Former Alliance activist, Carrick Lewis ;Cath Wallace from ECO; Wellington Trades Hall secretary, Graeme Clarke, who was Wellington District Secretary of the Federation of Labour in 1984 SFWU organiser, Daele O’Connor, Paul Tolich, Richard Wagstaff, National Secretary for the PSA and Vice President of the CTU, Rory McCourt, Jeff Sissons, Rebecca Matthews-Heron, Viveka Nylund, Bill Logan. The last speaker, was Peter Cranney, who in 1984 was Vice President of the Wellington Cleaner’s Union, and is currently a lawyer specialising in workers’ advocacy.[1]

Lucky miss

Graeme Clarke, Henry Stubbs and Graham Kelly were among a small group of unionists who walked past a bomb at Wellington Trades Hall 20 minutes before it went off at 5:19pm on March 27, 1984, killing caretaker Ernie Abbott.

The three men attended the 30th anniversary memorial service for Mr Abbott in the foyer of Trades Hall in Vivian St March 2014.

Immediately before the bombing they had attended the regular monthly meeting of the management committee of the Federation of Labour's Wellington District Trades Council.

The meeting was chaired by the late Pat Kelly and Mr Clarke, then the secretary of the Wellington District Council of the Federation of Labour, recalled last night how he and President Mr Pat Kelly had walked past the suitcase bomb when they left the building before going on to attend another union meeting at Fraser House in Willis St.

"While we sat in the room [at the Trades Hall meeting] a bomb was sitting outside. If it had gone off earlier it could have taken away the whole of the management committee of the Wellington Trades Council.

"It is with some good fortune that I am here today because when we left, I left with Pat Kelly, we walked out the door with arms full of leaflets.

"Pat saw the suitcase but our arms were too full to pick up the suitcase, which had nothing to do with us," Mr Clarke said.

At the meeting the three men had planned a campaign against Prime Minister Rob Muldoon's wage freeze.[2]


In the mid ’80s, Mike Law was working at Centre for Continuing Education, at the University of Waikato. Shortly after Labour’s 1984 election victory, he was appointed chairman of of a four person Task Force on Trade Union Education. His three colleagues were;

This Taskforce led to the establishment of the Trade Union Education Authority. Until it was abolished by the Bolger Government, TUEA served as a taxpayer funded propaganda vehicle for the SUP. Known Party supporters who were paid or subsidised by TUEA include; Graeme Whimp, Hazel Armstrong, Ros Goldsbrough, Brendan Tuohy, Joe Tepania, Gary Reading, Sam Murray and Marilyn Kohlhase.

Workers Communist League supporters on the payroll or in receipt of TUEA subsidies include; Graeme Clarke, David Steele and Therese O'Connell.

WMLO union influence

Wellington Marxist-Leninist Organisation was active and influential in Wellington Trades Hall, where it had “the leading hand” in its relationships with prominent unionists, such as Pat Kelly and Graeme Clarke, the latter of whom was in fact a member. [3]

PSA forum

"With an attraction like Bob Jones, the Union Hall couldn't help being packed [unclear: last] Thursday. Maybe some were curious, maybe some anticipated witnessing a [unclear: ritual] leading of lambs to the slaughter. And maybe there were some masochist types who enjoy getting their throats cut with abuse.

The occasion for all this speculation was a forum organised by the Progressive Students Alliance (PSA) called "Where is New Zealand heading?" Speakers ranged away from Jones to Labour new boys David Caygill and David Butcher, the police, Secretary of the deregistered Wellington Boilermakers Con Devitt, Secretary of the Wellington Coachmakers Graeme Clarke and a Wellington Marxist-Leninist Organisation spokesperson, one Lindy Cassidy.[4]