Is UNITE solvent?

December 2nd, 2010 at 3:41 pm by David Farrar

Daniel on Twitter pointed me to the audited accounts for the union, which are filed with the Registrar of Incorporated Societies.

The accounts to 31 March 2009 reveal the following:

  • Their liabilities exceed their assets by around $172,000
  • Their bank account is over-drawn to $63,000
  • They owe the around $130,000
  • They have an agreement with IRD to pay the debt off at $8,000 per month
  • They have a $30,000 loan from the National Distribution Trust, which presumably is associated with the ND Union.

This is a very bad look for a trade union, as some of their unpaid tax is PAYE. That means that have been taking the tax off their staff, and rather than pay it to the IRD, have kept onto it.

Employers who do that are labelled thieves and bad employers. It is seen as worse as not paying income tax because it is not tax on your own income, it is tax on behalf of your employees and you are acting in a role as trustee to deduct and pass on.

The 2010 accounts have not been filed. Hopefully they have paid back the IRD.

I like – he is a genuine advocate for his beliefs. But to advocate that the state should be spending far more money, and have your own union not paying their taxes, exposes you to charges of hypocrisy.

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38 Responses to “Is UNITE solvent?”

  1. lastmanstanding (1,297 comments) says:

    Well what do you expect from Socialists. They just put out their hand and have the taxpayer foot the bill. Just like Clark and Cullen did.

    they have no nous for the real commercial world. they live ina dreamland where I and everyone else pays for them

    they are like their supporters BLUDGERS NO HOPERS and POND LIFE

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  2. themono (129 comments) says:

    That’s totally unfounded, lastmanstanding. UNITE it seems are incompetently managed. EPMU it seems is very competently managed by comparison, with substantial equity and sustainable cashflow deficits and supluses.

    It’s a management issue, not a “socialist” issue.

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  3. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    UNITE = Terry Serepisos without a football team.

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  4. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    That means that have been taking the tax off their staff, and rather than pay it to the IRD, have kept onto it.

    Well, sort of. You have your bank account with all the money into it, and you write a paycheque, and you write a cheque for the IRD. Sure, to the employee it looks like they’re collecting tax on behalf but really it comes up as just another business expense.

    Regardless, I’d rather they paid their people and not the IRD than the other way around. Oh wait, it’s the UNITE union. Scratch that. ;)

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  5. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    But DPF, it’s the SOCIALISTS who are doing this, getting themselves into debt and keeping the taxes they have taken from their staff, and as usual acting in dishonest ways, so its quite acceptable – and you can be absolutely certain that no one in tthe MSM or UNITE or any of the trade unions will even mention it.

    Whereas if it had been a business, or someone in the National Party . . .

    Evidently it is an application of the maxim: ‘One rule for us, one rule for ‘the rest’ – especially if ‘the rest’ are your c’class enemies’

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  6. Jeremy Harris (319 comments) says:

    Hmm, I hope the Mana campaign finances were kept very seperate from the Union’s regular books… If I was a McD’s employee I wouldn’t want money that should be spent on representing me or paying down my Union’s debt going to a largely pointless campaign…

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  7. themono (129 comments) says:

    Jeremy – my understanding is the Mana campaign and Unite’s finances were kept strictly separate. Have to check the reports for any more detail though.

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  8. Manolo (13,837 comments) says:

    “I like Matt McCarten – he is a genuine advocate for his beliefs.”

    You can say that DPF, I cannot.

    I despise McCarten and all he represents: the policies of envy, mediocrity, socialism, and “equality” regarding of intellectual capacity, hardwork, and merit.

    He doesn’t deserve the admiration of anyone.

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  9. manglethwaite (4 comments) says:

    Did Unite invoice Matt for the big advertisement they have on their front page (still) for his campaign? Did he also pay to access the Unite contact database to send messages, indirectly, to members?

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  10. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    “That means that have been taking the tax off their staff, and rather than pay it to the IRD, have kept onto it.”

    Just out of interest, if paye goes unpaid (for any company) who is liable to pay the debt with the IRD? Can the IRD come after the employee or just the employer?

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  11. themono (129 comments) says:

    Hagues – Once it’s come out of the employee’s salary, it’s the employer’s responsibility to pass it on. IRD comes after the employer.

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  12. flipper (4,083 comments) says:

    Well, DPF, isn’t there one rule for all?
    IRD/Police/SFO should be into them like a robbers dog.
    IRD tax assessments are disputable.
    PAYE is NOT.
    PAY UP OR FACE CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS.
    Or we come back to who really runs the bureaucracy…………..

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  13. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    Thanks themono

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  14. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    The best part about this is that the next time any lefty group (teachers, trainspotters, art gallery builders, university students, etc) comes to the government looking for a handout, Bill English can tell them that he’d like to help but the country doesn’t have any money because UNITE hasn’t paid their taxes.

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  15. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    There’s no excuse for not paying PAYE or GST. We maintain a separate account, and whenever revenue comes in, a portion is set aside for future PAYE and GST payments. That way, we always know that the payments can be made on time and without penalty. UNITE puports to represent the low-waged who are exploited by scumbag employers. This will be hugely embarrassing for them. Like Winston Peters, UNITE are no better than those who they condemn.

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  16. nickb (3,687 comments) says:

    ROFL, oh my, lets see what toad, Maggie et al have to say about this one….

    This is known by teenage nerds as an “epic fail”

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  17. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    It should be easier for UNITE (compared to most businesses) as their income should usually be quite predictable. The economic downturn and increased unemployment may have impacted a bit, but I’d have thought mostly after the March 2009 year.

    Maybe they employed staff that turned out to be not up to the job and they can’t get rid of them.

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  18. themono (129 comments) says:

    Pete George – interestingly their salary cost is shown to be up 50% on the previous year. More likely their management is just incompetent and took on extra staff they couldn’t afford though.

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  19. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    I see stuff has this story timed at about 14:23pm.
    About half an hour after yours DPF. No attribution either.
    And at $8k a month they should have got rid of the debt by june 2010. The next set of accounts will be interesting.

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  20. Blue Coast (165 comments) says:

    Why is anyone surprised with this ? Par for the course with these outfits. Only the big bad businesses who risk their arse can be guilty of such behaviour.
    Just waiting for some leftie to try and justify this but I guess they are all in hiding.

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  21. nickb (3,687 comments) says:

    Not passing through PAYE to IRD is especially damaging to employees for a few reasons:

    1. Damages employment relationship very badly (“are they taking my money and keeping it themselves” kind of thinking etc)

    2. If the employee needs verification of income on an official IRD letterhead, this can’t be provided until outstanding returns/payments are filed

    3. IRD’s calculation of Working For Families (designed to help…… low paid workers) cannot be done properly.

    Shame on you, UNITE union

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  22. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    Well said Manolo @ 4.00pm.

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  23. themono (129 comments) says:

    Alex – Stuff.co.nz got it independently of Kiwiblog, but do actually reference Kiwiblog anyway.

    Blue Coast – as I mentioned above, actually it’s not “par for the course with these outfits”. EPMU and NDU seem to be very well run from their financials.

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  24. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    I see that STUFF is now attributing the story to DPF.

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  25. david (2,557 comments) says:

    What legislation governs Trade Unions’ financial affairs. Obviously not the Companies Act. Trading while insolvent may well be not against any law at all if you are outside any legal definition of an organisation. Probably they are registered as a charity and thus exempt tax or something equally stupid.

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  26. nickb (3,687 comments) says:

    Incorporated Societies Act maybe david?

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  27. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    interestingly their salary cost is shown to be up 50% on the previous year.

    A huge increase. The year March 2009 covers the election in 2008 – increases would surely be coincidental.

    What proportion of costs is their payroll? They can’t have been predicting a big increase in membership to cover that sort of increase.

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  28. themono (129 comments) says:

    Pete George – I’m away from my computer now so don’t have the figures, but as I recollect, their total expenses are around $750,000 and their staff cost was around $450,000 (up from $350,000 the previous period).

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  29. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    My experience of unions (consulting to some, employed by one) is that a disproportionate amount goes to the people at the top. Much like most public companies, actually.

    Their employees (organisers especially) usually work damned hard for moderate wages, having been hired because they have a genuine desire to help members. Indeed the advertising usually hits that aspect pretty heavily, because they want people who’ll put others before themselves.

    Then the upper echelons can afford to keep themselves in the style to which they’re accustomed, using money that – if they lived by the principles they espoused – would be shared more fairly with their own workers.

    Not saying that’s the case here – McCarten is the unionist I’d imagine least likely to be doing this – but as a general observation.

    In fact given themono’s comment about the rise in staff costs it could be the opposite applies here – he’s been paying what he thinks his staff are worth rather than what he can actually afford. If so it’s unwise, stupid even, but hardly the typical bastardy I’ve seen in the sector.

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  30. ch123 (647 comments) says:

    “Then the upper echelons can afford to keep themselves in the style to which they’re accustomed, using money that – if they lived by the principles they espoused – would be shared more fairly with their own workers.”

    Yep, you have to love the hypocrisy of the left. What was that quote from animal farm? Something like “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

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  31. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    Don’t worry all the Labour Party technocrats do is ‘gift’ the Unions modernisation grants of millions.

    All out of the taxpayer purse.

    The Unions clip the ticket and enjoy the cash flow and then the Masters get the money gifted as a donation to their Party.

    So simple, and no-one complains.

    Easy money and your chicks for free.

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  32. wikiriwhis business (4,019 comments) says:

    What comes reeking through here is a bright influential Liarbour member who feels accountability isn’t an issue.

    In any party that attitude will come back to bite your butt. Still, in Lairbour, as long as a man doesn’t have a mo, he must

    be good on all fronts.

    No cancer patient will benefit from a Lairbour MP in Movember. Nor Decembeard come to think of it. Is it time for Liarbour to Januflect??

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  33. niggly (830 comments) says:

    Pete George (8,130) Says:

    December 2nd, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Maybe they employed staff that turned out to be not up to the job and they can’t get rid of them.

    If that just happened to be the case, would ya think that Matt could be thinking to himself, as the IRD come knocking on his door … “damn, maybe this 90 day trial law wasn’t such a bad idea after-all? Pity we didn’t support it earlier…” :-)

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  34. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    wikiriwhis business says:

    Still, in Lairbour, as long as a man doesn’t have a mo, he must be good on all fronts.

    What, Phil Goff has shaved it off?!

    Can’t say I’d noticed.

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  35. fatman43us (166 comments) says:

    Another issue which concerns me always, as this whole scenario of huge arrears to the IRD is a perpetual one, is that of Child Support Payments and Kiwisaver contributions which are also in arrears. If there is a Liquidation, which the IRD are major proponents of, the employee and their accounts are in a very difficult position. These latter two payments are a straight robbery of the employee, as the employer is only an (unpaid) collection agent for the State.

    You might also like to consider other amounts such as Court Fines, Lien Payments and the list goes on. The only outcome I have ever seen is a liquidation, and the amount returned to IRD from that especially with the finances as spelt out in DPF’s article is not going to be major.

    FP Walsh would turn in his grave!!

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  36. Gwilly (158 comments) says:

    Let’s see the audited accounts for all the Unions.

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  37. themono (129 comments) says:

    Gwilly – you can, just go on to the societies website. That’s all I did. EPMU, NDU are there. I didn’t look for CTU.

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  38. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Unite is clearly a shit employer. Better get the … ah… union… on to that… um…

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