Meatworkers’ Union

Unions: It wasn’t David’s fault, we back Cunliffe

The cognitive dissonance of the left continues with two union leaders on Radio New Zealand professing undying love for David Cunliffe.

They both think that poor old David Cunliffe was hard done by.

These guys are so out of touch it isn’t funny.

There seems to be this continuing narrative that Labour should have gone further to the left.

Have they not noticed that 75% of people didn’t vote for labour and David Cunliffe. Read more »

More anti-semitism from Martyn Bradbury’s union funded blog

Readers will recall a nasty anti-semitic image that Martyn Bradbury posted on his blog, which he first abused those criticising him, and then sought to minimise when he felt the pressure of the NZ political left.

Yet it’s not the first time Bradbury’s blog has gone jew-baiting. This post is also within the last month.

Martyn Bradbury's Union funded blog Jew baiting shamelessly

Martyn Bradbury’s Union funded blog Jew baiting shamelessly

Cunliffe’s unfavourables worse than Shearer’s

My Fraser House source tells me that a deep worry has set in amongst those in the know.

Labour’s internal polling has shown a flattening of support, a dip even, back to Shearer’s levels of support.

What is worse is his favourables have slumped dramatically and now unfavourables are climbing like Labour’s own poll ratings are supposed to be.

With the balls-up of the KiwiAssure showing complete ineptness from the leader’s office and his refusal to talk to media and complete lack of media coverage unless from set piece engagements it is unlikely to improve.

He even bailed from attending parliament on Wednesday preferring instead to talk to the Meatworker’s Union than confront John Key. I doubt he inquired about the state of their accounts…more likely he was telling them one thing that he will contradict outside of the closed confines of a union knees up.   Read more »

Rodney Hide still battling the dodgy ratbags at the Meatworkers Union

The dodgy Meatworkers Union has finally filed their accounts, and as Rodney Hide finds they are still dodgy.

I fear the registrar of Incorporated Societies is getting sick of me. I have had to write to him again.

Regular readers will recall Neville Harris and I have had quite the correspondence over the past year. The issue is the New Zealand Meatworkers’ Union not filing its branch accounts as required by law.

The union has been getting away with just filing head office accounts when all the financial action is in the branches.

Anyway, Mr Harris got on their case and after much to-ing and fro-ing the union filed consolidated accounts as required. All to the good. But then I decided to take a look.

SacrĂ© bleu! Still not right. The accounts are so qualified that we can’t take much from them. There certainly are apparent irregularities.  Read more »

Is there a Governance Crisis at the NZCTU?

Is there a Governance Crisis at the NZCTU? – An Observation by The Owl

Over the last few months 2 of the 6 (technically) affiliated unions (NZ Meat Workers Union and Maritime Union of NZ) who get to vote on David Shearer’s future have been put under the spotlight by the Registrar of the Incorporated Societies. It has been proven they have both failed to file complete returns with the Registrar.

The NBR also questioned a 3rd union, the EPMU, on their balance sheet regarding a Pike River Trust. The EPMU have been reporting losses and the EPMU Education and Training Trust fund for members remains solvent only because the EPMU does not demand the $6M loan back as qualified by their auditors. (The Trust assets are approximately $3M.)

A number of so called affiliate unions to the NZCTU have been reporting losses, failing to declare income for GST purposes and generally been late with their financial returns. But to be fair some unions are good at compliance.

The ultimate responsibility of the NZCTU is to their members. Are there governance policies in place at the NZCTU head office to manage its individual unions when they fall out of line?

The Owl asks, is there a governance crisis? Here is a great example of good governance by a governing body.

When the Otago Rugby Union got into trouble – the NZ Rugby Union went down there, told them to sort themselves out and if they didn’t the NZRFU would liquidate them. The Board was changed and a number of people stood down. This is good governance from the top and Otago flourished on the field in 2012. The word on the street is it is a pretty happy camp now – a good dose of “tough love”

Owl’s Observation

The Owl believes the Labour Party Executive should demand that the NZCTU develop a good governance model to manage their affiliates if they want to get 20% of the voting rights.

The Labour Party Executive can exercise their governance control and meet with the NZCTU just like the NZ Rugby Union did with the Otago Rugby Union.

Current day unions only represent between 6-9% of the workers in private industry. Does this means the Labour Party is being distracted by pleasing a few when actually they are missing out on potentially serving the 94% of working voters?

The Owl is looking forward to analysing the results of the Labour Party Conference

Meatworkers Union – Failure to Disclose

For Meat Workers Union Members only: presented by the Owl

Dear Meat Workers Union Members:

A number of people have been working very hard on your behalf to ensure you receive the best information available from your unions. We have received major criticism for our persistence in these matters but we are now able to provide you with your correct financial information.

We are not looking for a thank you or anything – we just want you to have the best. For the Owl I believe in process and a great advocate for members. Just like you pay money into kiwi saver there is governing laws around protecting your investment. Unions are incorporated societies and your investment needs to be protected as well. Failure to disclose is a serious matter.

The Owl has tabled a comparison of what was originally filed by your Union in 2011 and what the actual true figures were.

Please note that your Union auditors have stated that in their report “Also we have not been able to obtain sufficient audit evidence regarding revenues and expenses relating to Hawera Sub-Branch and 2010 comparatives of Otago Southland Branch”. These are not our words but your auditors.

The Owl does not dig around in rubbish bins for scandals and only uses information freely available in the public domain. I suggest members write to their Union and seek clarification on any matters.

What is worse – A privacy breach or a failure to disclose?

2011 2011 2011
Expenses  Orginally Filed  The “Real” position  Understated by:
ACC Levy  999  4,177  3,178
Affiliations and Capitation  93,236  93,236  -
Donations & Presentations  24,416  45,796  21,380
Fringe Benefit Tax  4,461  39,008  34,547
Health & Safety  55,743  79,326  23,583
Legal  56,161  350,632  294,471
Meetings and Conferences  160,553  456,598  296,045
Honorariums & Commissions  4,000  87,276  83,276
Salaries & Allowances  170,031  1,203,188  1,033,157
Superannuation  8,405  46,588  38,183
Travelling Car & Air  34,593  233,698  199,105
Accountancy  -  41,234  41,234
Audit  4,903  30,975  26,072
Depreciation  6,173  119,347  113,174
Loss on Fixed Assets  7,867  4,684 (3,183)
Office Expenses  68,704  346,562  277,858
Total expenses  686,205  3,182,325  2,482,080
Membership Subscription  682,178  2,768,676  2,086,498
Interest Received  29,928  166,392  136,464
Rental Income  -  39,580  39,580
Sundry Income  -  110,990  110,990
 712,106  3,085,638  2,373,532
Taxation  8,230  49,705  41,475
Net Surplus (Loss) 17,671 (146,392) (128,721)

MUNZ copies Meatworkers, breaking the law

The Owl has been digging into the Maritime Union’s affairs and it looks like they may well be in the same spot of bother that the Meatworkers Union is.

More importantly it may mean that Local 13 of the Maritime Union is an illegal union. They are collecting fees and only passing through capitation fees to the Maritime Union. Local 13 is not registered as a union and nor has it presented any accounts as required by law. My understanding is existing contracts and agreements are in the name of Local 13 and not in the name of the Maritime Union.

In my opinion Ports of Auckland should seek an immediate judgement from the courts on the validity of Local 13 continuing to negotiate and represent members at the Port.

The Owl’s findings are below:

MUNZ versus NZ Meat Workers Union

The Registrar Office has put the hard word on the NZ Meat Workers Union to file consolidated accounts and according to press releases this could add up to millions.

The issue lies around a word called “capitation” which means that all branches pay HQ a capitation fee of a set amount for the number of members each branch has.

I took the time to review other unions that have branches as well and the Maritime Union has the same set up.

2011 Accounts

Affiliation Fees $338,058.00

Registered Members according to Department of Labour Returns 2,580

Therefore average Capitation Fee $131.00

Annual Union Fees per member? At Local 13 the union fees depend on hours worked and are worked out at 1.5% of wages. That works out at between $10-$35 per week.

The majority of the Affiliation Fees comes from a branch called Seafarers $153,927.00

Owls Observation

The Owl has always said he doesn’t care what businesses spend their money on or what their business model is. What I do care about is process.

It looks like MUNZ has the same issue as the NZ Meat Workers Union and I wonder if the Registrar is taking the same hard line.

(Note: All information is available in the public domain and the Owl always apologises if incorrect.)

Meatworkers in serious trouble

Contrary to claims made previously that I was manufacturing silliness about the Meatworkers dodgy accounting practices they are now in serious trouble.

NBR reports (paid content):

The Registrar of Incorporated Societies is putting his foot down over six years of incomplete Meat Workers Union’s accounts, hiding millions of dollars.

After questions were raised by NBR columnist Rodney Hide, registrar Neville Harris originally gave the union until October 12 to file its 2011 accounts, including the previously missing branch office accounts.

The union has only provided head office accounts to the Societies Register since 2005.

Mr Harris says the union, formally known as the New Zealand Meat Workers and Related Trades Union, missed the October 12 deadline.

That is because of an Incorporated Societies Act requirement for the union’s accounts to be approved by its members at a general meeting, which is being held on November 7.

Union general secretary Graham Cooke told NBR ONLINE last month it was happy to provide a 2011 set of consolidated accounts, but it was battling Mr Harris’s request for the previous five years because of the cost.

However, Mr Harris – the deputy secretary of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – is putting his foot down.

Hide: Unions acting unlawfully

Rodney Hide has put out another great expose on the Meatworkers Union at it seems it gets murkier the more he looks into it. This is no surprise to Whaleoil readers who have seen example after example of unions ripping off members, misrepresenting their financial position and dodging any taxes or other legal requirements.

It turns out the muscle end of the Meatworkers’ Union is not a union at all, that the meatworkers can’t lawfully exercise any of the powers and privileges of a union, and that the meatworkers are acting outside of the law whenever they do so.

The senior accountant in the Registrar’s Office explains: On April 19 he wrote to the national secretary of the Meatworkers’ Union, David Eastlake, saying, “The problem is that it is the incorporated society that is the sole legal entity – the branches are just that, branches of the incorporated society – the branches are not legal entities.”

That’s clear: the branches are not legal entities.

But it’s the branches that do all the union business. I have a February 10 letter by the principal of Beck and Associates, which audits the national office accounts. The letter explains that, “The national office does not have members. Individuals sign a form and in practice become members of their relevant branch.”

Further, “Employee union subscriptions in fact go directly to the relevant branch bank account, not the national body.” The branches are entirely “autonomous.” And, “The national secretary, Mr David Eastlake confirms the above points.”

Rodney then puts it in a nice nutshell for us:

The branches that do all the union business are not legal entities and are certainly not unions. That’s according to the registrar’s office.

But the Meatworkers’ Union admits it is the branches that are exercising all the powers and privileges of a union. They have no lawful authority to be doing so.

This is big stuff. Employers should be asking under what legal authority the meatworkers are undertaking collective bargaining, accessing the workplace, requiring companies to allow employees to attend union meetings, requiring union fees to be deducted from employees’ pay, and so on.

Because, according to the registrar’s office, employers are not dealing with a legal entity, let alone a registered union.

So which New Zealand business will be the first to challenge the authority and  legitimacy of the Meatworkers’ Union?  Time for a popcorn run.


Hide on the Meatworkers Union

Rodney Hide has obviously been following my exposure of the dodgy accounting practices of the Meat Workers Union. He has complained to the Registrar but is meeting some strange resistance to requiring the union to follow the law.

I was recently told about some serious spending by the New Zealand Meat Workers Union that surprised me.

It was so surprising that I thought I should check it out.

No problem. I would just look up their audited accounts that the Registrar of Incorporated Societies would hold. That way I could determine if the story I was told was true.

I was shocked to learn the accounts aren’t there. The meatworkers have four branches and for the past seven years have only been disclosing the capitation fees paid by the four branches to the national body.

For the year ended September 2010 the disclosed income was $712,370.

The total income to the union is several million dollars a year.

That’s a failure over the years to disclose tens of millions of dollars

The law is clear. To be a union, an organisation must be incorporated. And incorporated societies must file annual financial statements that members of the public can inspect. The advantage of incorporation is that it gives a legal personality separate from the society’s members. In return, members of the public can inspect the society’s accounts.

But I can’t for the Meat Workers Union. Neither can you. And that’s been the case for seven years.

The Meatworkers Union is clearly and demonstrably breaking the law. Rodney complained and that is where this story becomes weird:

Parliament has provided the registrar with the power to require records. So I wrote to the registrar pointing out the meatworkers’ failure. I suggested he use his power to get the branch records for the last seven years and make them publicly available.

That was back in May. The registrar is Neville Harris, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Economic Development, which is part of a new super ministry. He advised me that he had been aware of the meatworkers’ failure to disclose their accounts since November 2011.  My information was not news to him.

He explained he had been in contact with the union and was following up with the objective of having it file a “revised financial statement” that includes information relating to the activities of its branches.

I have had no explanation why he doesn’t just demand the branch records and why he is speaking of just one financial statement singular when there are several years missing.

It’s a complete mystery to me why the registrar just doesn’t demand the branch records and made them publicly available. After all, that’s the law’s requirement of unions and incorporated societies.

Mr Harris and I now have had quite a correspondence. I can report that I am no further ahead than when I started.

There must be some real dodgy stuff in there given they are fighting so hard to keep their books secret. I suspect there will be nice payments to the bosses and good fat donations to Labour that have never been declared.

With the Health Services Union debacle in Australia it is highly likely that at least one union is rorting their members in a similar manner.