SFO complaint laid about Meatworkers Union

3 News reports:

Affco has accused the union representing its employees of not complying with its statutory reporting requirements, and says there are “irregularities” in its financial accounts.

The New Zealand Meat Workers and Related Trades Union and Affco have been involved in a tit-for-tat series of strikes and lockouts since February, fighting over changes to union members’ collective employment agreement.

In the latest move, Affco says it is laying a complaint with the Serious Fraud Office on behalf of its employees over the payments they make to the union.

CEO Hamish Simson says the union has not declared its total income, and has failed to disclose what it does with its members’ contributions.

“It appears from the union’s published financial statements that only a fraction of its total income has been declared,” says Mr Simson.

“Affco workers contribute over $500,000 to the union each year, paying $5.95 each per week. Affco workers represent less than 10 percent of the 23,000 members the Union says it has and yet it only declares revenue of just over $700,000 per annum”.

The Meatworkers Union is affiliated to Labour, and donated $18,000 to them at the last election.

Looking at their accounts, I would say that levies are paid to branches, and a fraction of those levies are paid to the main union as capitation fees.

Now if those branches are all incorporated societies also, then probably all is okay. But if they are not, and do not publish accounts, then there is a case they are concealing their overall income. are required to be publicly registered. Do those who pay the fees think they are joining the NZ or a separate branch union?

The only other incorporated society that has the words “Meat” and “Workers” in its name is the “CANTY MARL NELSON BR NZ MEAT IND RELATED TRADES IND UNION WORKERS WELFARE SOC INCORPORATED”. They have not filed annual accounts for 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Their 2011 accounts only show income of $37,000 so they do not explain where the “missing” $4 million of revenue is.

If 80% of the money is kept in branches whose accounts are excluded from the incorporated society’s accounts, then that is seriously wrong. Branches are generally regarded as part of the parent body, unless themselves incorporated.

It will be fascinating to see if there is an innocent explanation for the missing $4 million or so.

Whale has blogged on this issue in recent days.

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