Where did all the Meatworkers Union members go?

Yesterday I posted the accounts of the Meatworkers Union.

Owl has made some observations:

Information is taken from MED Societies and Trust website and NZ Meat Workers and Related Trades Union Incorporated.

Their website states that the Union has 23,000 members.

“The New Zealand Meat Workers and Related Trades Union (Inc.) covers up to 23,000 permanent and seasonal workers employed over 75 sites in the New Zealand meat industry. This includes workers in freezing works, tanneries, fertiliser plants, halal operations, small meat processing plants and small goods processors.”

The 2010 Annual Accounts says that capitation fees paid by the branches pay $51.00 (excluding GST) to the HQ.

Here is the calculation as follows


2010 Branches


Capitation Charge



$  169,014.00

 $       51.00              3,314

$  180,642.00

 $       51.00              3,542

$    67,248.00

 $       51.00              1,319

$  271,422.00

 $       51.00              5,322
Total Members

$  688,326.00

Members as per website            23,000
Variation to Membership              9,503


But to help the Union reconcile their membership they pay the NZCTU a capitation fee of $4.90 (refer Note 1 2010 Annual Accounts Note 1 B (g)).

Capitation paid to NZCTU  $  71,156.00
Capitation charge per Member  $            4.90
Memberships paid                14,522

The Owl’s observation is this:

How many union members are there?   A)23,000,     B) 13,497,     C)14,522.

Before someone says the Owl has taken into account part-time or seasonal workers – there is no reference in the accounts to those sorts of adjustments.

The Owl makes/draws no further conclusions other that the observation is a mathematical calculation based on information provided in the public domain.


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  • Blokeintakapuna

    Shine those bright lights WO (and Owl)

    Seems there’s some very dodgy goings-on within the unions alright. They rely on the apathy, lazyness and outright inability of the “working man” to ask the relevant questions and to even understand the answers / financial accounts…

    Probably about time some form of competition was offered to the working man – in competition to the Unions! Yes, intelligence is the best opposition, but not all of us have been blessed with the ability to think for ourselves. Shame these renta-thugs have taken advantage for so long, without much accountability…

    Hopefully the IRD will start looking into all the shady / dodgy union dealings and financial accounts – if only to help the unions demonstrate transparency and accountability?

    IRD – please get out your rubber gloves – the ones that go up to the armpit – and do some research on dodgy union dealings please… 

    • Timandtim

      I don’t if the IRD would be that interested but NZCTU – they have been short changed

  • Ronnie Chow

     I wonder if they are just apathetic , especially if they’ve never been called to account ?

  • Sooooo – does it say anywhere when membership fees fall due? Then also I’d probably discount completely the website number as a publicity fiction for a start, and concentrate on the Annual Report figures… in which case there’s a variation of 1,025 between those paid up and those listed as being members but the number paid are above those listed – so are people allowed to pay in advance – or have people joined and paid and then are no longer working so not listed at the end of the year? either way 1,025 seems a lot.

    • Timandtim

      I agree the website is probably wrong but I checked and it does say 23000. Maybe a typo – should of said 13000.
      However begs the question maybe their are 23000 people working in their 75 sites which means they have included non union members!

      • Adolf Fiinkensein

         ”   should HAVE said….” if you don’t mind.

    • johnbronkhorst

      You would defend the union, wouldn’t you neil!!!? Lying being a preoccupation of most unions, I am NOT inclined to believe the discrepencies are either explainable, excusable or accidental in ANY way shape or form. Union executives RELY on the appathy and gullibility of their membership…this is why only about 20% of the work force actually belong to a union….and this number is  SHRINKING, because the unions are being found out!! If being a member of a union (at just $6 per week) was SSSOOO beneficial, they would have a much larger membership!!!

      •  Don’t read non-existant stuff into my comments – I’m not in support of the union at all – tosser!!

    • John Whyte

      The 1025 is about 7.5%  I would suggest that at this percentage there is a timing issue around the capitalization fee such as the fee to the NZCU is paid for every member, however the fee to head office is for every fully paid member for the year.  

      Alternatively there could be some accounting work done around the fact that some union members will leave, and join the same union at different employment.  These people could have the NZCU fee paid twice over.

      I would suggest that the website figure is the union spin trying to include everyone working in the industry as they ‘represent them all’

      •  Thanks John – seems valid to me one of my past lives was trying to sort this type of shitty lazily put together information out to make some sense out of it…..for board members of a not for profit – not a union johnbronkhorst…

  • Pharmachick

    Interestingly, even if you pick the Meatworker’s Union’s Highest number (23,000) that’s still less than half (only 46%) of the number of students enrolled at Auckland Uni in 2009 (46,940) citation for latter # is here ^ 2009 Annual Report

    So … perhaps we should start tweaking government policy around what the Scarfies are currently asking for (yes, I realise that interest free Student Loans may qualify under this tongue-in-cheek comment) … My broader point is, even *IF* Meatworkers Union is as big as they claim, it still represents a constituency less than half the size of the student body at only ONE of our Universities.  Moreover, even if we take that to an extreme example and say every worker represents a family of four, then they still represent less than the number of students at only three of our Universities in NZ. Hardly a massive political bloc of NZ citizens (by number).   

    • Blokeintakapuna

      totally agreee… but if they can get some of those numbers to jump up and down screaming the sky is falling, the sky is falling… the unions can once again proclaim “thousands” are with them etc…

      It just goes to show that the unions deliberately lie, deceive, tell half truths and generally act obnoxiously that the vast majority of everyday NZer’s have had enough of.

  • Bawaugh

    For the record what is the official reply of the union to these claims? 

    The information they are providing to the public domain does appear to be contradictory when carefully analyzed and it would be nice to have official reply for the record. It is possible there is an innocent explanation. 

    A person’s case will appear to be right until you consider the other side’s evidence. 

    Still if there is corruption in Kiwi unions I want it dealt with (and that can only be decided after a fair trial). It is in their own interest to have such issues dealt with. 

    • Timandtim

      I think we can all agree the capitation for the branches and NZCTU is about right giving some credence to the audited accounts. However the real issue sits with their website which states 23000!
      Now WO and owl never made that number up. It is black and white.

      So is their member as owl puts it 23000, 13000, or 14000. I am definitely going to watch there website.

  • Bawaugh

    Maybe the truth is in the phrase “covers up to 23,000”. (quoted from above)

    Maybe they are acting like an ad agency and claiming potential membership (i.e. non-union members) to make themselves look bigger. 

    I would be interested to hear their feedback before rushing to final conclusions. 

    • Timandtim

      Didn’t 4 trillion watch the rugby world cup final?

  • Adamsmith1922

    How many do they affiliate to the Labour Party, any of the 3 quoted numbers or a different one entirely?

  • TJ

    The 23,000 number is clearly a marketing number and likely an exaggeration on the number of members they once had (or wished they had!) at the peak of a season. 

    Any attempt to try and reconcile this to the Capitation income in the accounts is likely futile and could not possibly take into account actual member numbers, timing differences, part timers, etc. I think you can say with a good degree of comfort that the revenue amount & related NZTU expense in the accounts is correct and accurate for the YE 30 Sept 10. 

    The 23k members claimed on their website is where the issue is and this analysis does show their membership is very unlikely to be this high during the period covered by the accounts.

  • Goforgold

    Actually why is everyone defending the Accounts – the website say 23,000 – that is the UNIONS DECLARATION.