Unions accounts

November 4th, 2012 at 11:23 am by David Farrar

writes in NBR:

The Maritime Union of New Zealand is in the same pickle as the New Zealand Meatworkers’ Union. It, too, has hidden millions of dollars of spending from the legally required public scrutiny.

Following my complaint, the Registrar of Incorporated Societies, Neville Harris, has ordered the Meatworkers’ Union to re-file six years’ of accounts (Hidesight, Aug 24).

His clear expectation is that the full accounts be presented for approval at the annual meeting on November 7 and be filed promptly thereafter.

It will be fascinating to see if the union complies. It has fought long and hard to keep its accounts hidden. But I’m backing the Registrar to prevail. He has the necessary statutory power to ensure the union complies with the law.

This is good. get numerous rights and privileges under the law. One of the few obligations to to be an incorporated society, which means their annual accounts must be public documents. Hiding the majority of funds away from public scrutiny is not acceptable.

Rodney writes how the Maritime Union has also been hiding money in branch accounts, which have not formed part of their public accounts they file with the Registrar. He notes in the comments on his post:

The Registrar of Incorporated Societies replied to my complaint as follows:

“In light of the issues raised by the NZ Meat Workers and Related Trades Union matter, my office is currently reviewing financial statement compliance by those incorporated societies who are registered unions.

This suggests that the Registrar will be investigating all unions to ascertain how many are following the law and disclosing their full accounts, and forcing those which are hiding accounts to publish in full. It will be fascinating to see how many other unions have been doing this.

Hat Tip: Whale Oil

13 Responses to “Unions accounts”

  1. Harriet (7,545 comments) says:

    This is another reason that Unions should be registered under the Companies Act.

    Company Executives -EMPLOYERS- get jailed for behaving like that.

    Unionists should NOT be above the law.

    Unions operating under Incorporated Societies can mislead the media, the public, business men/women, and their union members. And that is why union disputes with businesses drag on and on and on.

    On the other hand Company directors who are in ‘negotiations’ with Unions CANNOT mislead anyone, and if they do, they face the courts, fines, jail and delisting.

    Labour should end it’s corruptive practice of IMMUNING Unions from being unlawful, dishonest, deceptive, disloyal and disordered!

    If they don’t, then the dishonest face of Unions will be the campaign face of Labour at the next election: It’ll be an easy win for the Nats. 😎

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  2. Dave Stringer (218 comments) says:

    This raises some interesting issues for societies in general.
    For instance, in Scouting New Zealand, there must be hundreds of bank accounts around the country holding funds that, potentially, belong to SNZ rather than the local group. Getting an accurate picture of all those funds, what they are for and how they may be disposed would be a nightmare for the organisation – and probably a few dozen others.
    I hope this action relates only to Unions, therwise we may see a number of exceptionally beneficial Societies decide that it’s just not worth the effort anymore.

    [DPF: When I worked for Red Cross in the early 1990s we consolidated accounts for the country.

    It’s not that hard to do. You just send out a standardised I&E and balance sheet to each branch or for Scouts, Group, and consolidate them on a spreadsheet. Now Scouts have a lot, and could argue the amounts at group level are trivial. However with unions, the vast bulk of their funds are in branches – and they have only half a dozen. So if it deliberate non compliance rather than would be too difficult]

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  3. slijmbal (1,270 comments) says:


    The same situation occurs in charities. Was treasurer for one and the advice from the accountants is clear. Unless each and every branch, group or whatever entity is a separate tax entity and a separate legal entity the accounts can be tracked and managed at an individual entity level but have to be accounted for and reported in a consolodated fashion or expect to get prosecuted. End of story.

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  4. burt (11,491 comments) says:

    Nothing to see here – move on….

    I can hardly wait for the filthy lying union scum to be outed…. Bet the lefty bleeding heart “workers rights” fat cats have had their snouts deep in the trough that is funded by the lowest paid workers they claim to represent.

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  5. burt (11,491 comments) says:

    So what happens when we find out that the unions donating money to Labour and calling for higher taxation haven’t been paying their fair share of tax…. Oh that’t right…. we let them setup political parties and people actually vote for them !

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  6. Rightandleft (782 comments) says:

    I would just point out that while some unions have obvious transparency and corruption issues that does not mean all unions are like that anymore than incidents of corporate corruption mean all businesses are bad. PPTA keeps good accounts and all union officers right up to the executive are unpaid volunteers who remain full-time teachers.

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  7. burt (11,491 comments) says:


    Point noted… now how about these cheating lying militant ones…. You sound like the Pope saying not all Priests have skeletons in their closets…. great … but we’re talking about the ones who do.

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  8. PaulL (6,061 comments) says:

    Rightandleft: cross checking there. All PPTA staff are unpaid volunteers? And none f them get given time out from their day job as teachers for union business? I ask as in some areas the govt has been know to provide back door payments to unions – such as paying employees more if they’re union members. It wouldn’t surprise me if PPTA reps were given paid time off work to carry out union business – which would mean it’s not actually unpaid – you and I as taxpayers would be paying for it.

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  9. backster (2,510 comments) says:

    Meanwhile how is Mat getting on with the PAYE he stole instead of giving to the Taxman.

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  10. Rightandleft (782 comments) says:

    Members of the executive and some regional reps do get paid leave from work for attending to union business. This is in the contract. However they do not receive any extra payments themselves, no management units, no bonuses, no extra remuneration of any kind for what is often a significant amount of work in addition to their teaching load. My point is that there is no corruption issues because the people voting on the budget never see a cent of it in their pay packets. The people who take these roles do so out of commitment to improving the profession, not for monetary gain.

    Now there are paid union employees who are not teachers and work full-time for PPTA. They do not have any say in the budget and the accounts are independently audited on a regular basis to be certain they are above board. Also they cannot be PPTA members so have no voting rights. This avoids a conflict of interest.


    I’m not trying to say all unions are good. I’m just trying to counter the argument I often see here that ALL unions are bad. People hear one bad thing about the Meatworkers and suddenly it’s bloody unions this, bloody unions that. It’s the same way those on the left start screaming about all businesses being evil because of a few bad apples on Wall Street.

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  11. marcw (385 comments) says:

    It stuns me that “the Registrar of Incorporated Societies, Neville Harris” has apparently allowed this state of affairs to have developed over the last 6 years. What governance has he cast over these Unions, as it would appear to be his responsibility? Meanwhile, the full force (? farce) of the ERA is continually brought to bear on employers who happen to dismiss employees who threaten, steal, or bring their business into disrepute for not following a multi-page list of pen pushing steps to be executed in exquisite pc legalese to the satisfaction of our overpaid legal fraternity.

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  12. Lee C (2,993 comments) says:

    This is a good thing that you are doing.

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  13. Dave Stringer (218 comments) says:

    re: Scouts have a lot, and could argue the amounts at group level are trivial

    While that would be ideal, there are a number of groups that have significant assets (often in the shape of land and buildings) as well as endowments that have resulted in quite (in some cases) large trust accounts on their balance sheets.

    As a charity with its own Act of Parliament, scouting is probably going to be OK, but I’d hate to be the Group Leader who found that he had to produce several years worth of audited accounts for NHQ ! ! ! It would make a staff newsletter look like a real laugh – lol.

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