Affco

A reality check for Helen Kelly and Simon Oosterman

In their ongoing protest against AFFCO wanting workers to do a fair days work for a 5% pay increase, Helen Kelly and Simon Oosterman are using 1970’s tactics and media manipulation to try to win a battle they lost when Stan Rodger sorted out the unions in the 1980s.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly has been with the striking workers as they travelled around the Talley’s houses, and will join them for a march in Nelson at midday.

”We’re showing what is going on in these communities of Wairoa, Wanganui, the Manawatu, and Morea to the communities of Nelson and Motueka,” she said.

The Talley family, ”one New Zealand family”, had inflicted incredible hardship on 1300 other New Zealand families, she said.

Helen and Simon – this is 2012. Not forty years ago. The public of New Zealand are not on your side. The public do not care for your stupid rhetoric about one family causing hardship on another 1300 just as they didn’t side with the wharfies in Auckland who were getting paid $91,000 or more to work 26 hours a week.

If you really cared about your workers suffering hardship you would come to terms with Talleys rather than fighting your stupid, 1970’s ideological battle. In what might be news to you AFFCO have taken hundreds of your members who want a 5% pay increase for doing an honest days work, rather than fight your battles for you. And Simon, you have lost your touch with getting repeaters to repeat your stories in the media, maybe because you sold them a pup with people like Cecil Walker.

Will Hone’s Talley-Ban work?

NZ Herald

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has called for a “Talley-ban”, to send a signal to the family business, which is in bitter dispute with workers over collective bargaining.

Not sure that the tiny bunch of looney lefties will actually make much of a difference to Talley’s bottom line but in his ongoing quest for relevance Hone probably had to say something.

Given that Talley’s employ mostly Kiwi’s and that their fishing fleet staff is around 26% Maori I would think that Hone’s ill advised Talley-ban might actually hurt Maori. The Maori Fishing Companies employ Filipino or Indonesian workers.

I haven’t seen Hone Harawira calling for a ban on those companies.

Meatworkers Union forced to re-file accounts

As regular readers will know I have been focusing on dodgy unions and their lackadaisical financial records.

One union which I highlighted was the Meatworkers and Related Trades Union in which I found over $4 million of members funds missing.

As a result of my investigations one of the meat companies laid a complaint with the Serious Fraud Office who declined to investigate. Perhaps they should have not been so hasty in dismissing the complaint. Perhaps Helen Kelly might like to apologise to AFFCO after labeling their complaint as “hatred”.

I have learned yesterday that the Meatworkers and Related Trades Union has been ordered by The Registrar of Incorporated Societies to comply with the law and has required the Union to re-do their latest financial statement to include the figures for the unincorporated branches.

This means that the union claims that it was all above board for them to not issue consolidated accounts and essentially hide members monies in subsidiaries was based on poor advice and they are now being required to properly file audited accounts.

This also means that the unincorporated societies are essentially breaking the Employment Relations Act and operating as illegal unions.

Perhaps Helen Kelly might like to apologise to AFFCO after labeling their complaint as “hatred”. It turns out that their complaint certainly looks like it had a great deal of merit but for the lack of focus of the regulator, more intent on looking for corporate fraud rather than fraud against working people. All AFFCO wanted was for members money to be properly accounted for, something you would have thought Helen Kelly and the CTU would have wanted for workers.

Perhaps too the Accountants Society should re-think their ignoring of wilful disobedience of legal requirement for unions to file full and proper accounts.

I await the new accounts that properly record the financial activities of the Meatworkers and Related Trades Union. Once they are filed we can then get a better picture on the true state of the union finances rather than the dodgy accounts filed thus far.

I believe it would be reasonable for the past few years to be likewise corrected so that a proper trace on funds can be completed.

Other unions are in a similar position, either with incomplete financial records as required by law, or with improper consolidation. They would do well to comply with the law.

Helen Kelly is Dreamin’, Ctd

Helen Kelly lives in some parallel universe where cloth cap socialism is still relevant. Yesterday I highlighted some of the nauseating bullshit she was spouting on about the noble meat workers who’s union has been robbing them blind to the tune of $4m per year.

Instead of doing what a good person would do and looking for the hidden $4m Helen Kelly has reverted to the standard cloth cap socialist rant.

Locked out families will travel to the Nelson region on May 6 to try to meet the Talley family. They have a feeling the family might appreciate their situation if they talk to them about who they are, and their ambitions for their kids and grandkids.

They are hoping that when families meet face to face, there is still room to build a community of common understanding and respect.

Hopefully the Talley family will offer the meatworkers families the opportunity to work for a fair wage for a fair days work, giving all the opportunity to thrive if they just leave the stupid, corrupt union who is holding back productivity in some ideological battle from a bygone era.

Helen Kelly Is Dreamin’, Ctd

Helen Kelly’s cloth cap socialist rant against Talleys was about as silly as cloth cap socialist rants can get. The aspiring Labour MP for Rongotai needs to stop standing up for a corrupt union who has hidden $4m a year of union dues and start holding scumbags to account.

Instead she goes on some Dickensian rant complaining about the heartless wealthy people not even giving any gruel, let alone “more” to the hard done by workers.

Read this bullshit and weep for our country.

Talking to one of these workers at the weekend during a protest in Whanganui, I learned how he had worked for Affco for 30 years, next to his buddy who had been there for 40.

They have shared all life’s ups and downs and believe they may never work together again if the company has its way. They see the union as the only thing that keeps their working life decent and ensures their kids can also work in decent conditions.

Many of these families have exhausted all financial means. They have cashed in their KiwiSavers, frozen their mortgages and got credit card holidays. All these arrangements are coming to an end and they are starting to lose their cars, worry about their houses and realise their retirement will be a poor one.

They can’t understand why the company has to have this “all-or-nothing” approach when it is owned by a family they believe has everything, and doesn’t need any more money. The union movement is fundraising furiously but providing decent support to this number of families is difficult. It is wrong that cleaners and manufacturing workers are donating from their low wages to support these families while the Talley family wants for nothing.

It is all or nothing because the corrupt meatworkers union, having been caught out hiding $4m a year of members dues, are refusing to sensibly talk about productivity gains and sharing the wealth created from these gains.

We know there must be gains because several hundred former union workers have signed up with AFFCO, leaving the union for more money and performance bonuses. Why the mainstream media havent started asking the union why they have lost so many workers is beyond me, unless the media are the left wing apologists and repeaters we all think they are.

These workers could simply leave the union, sign on for a fair wage for fair work, and solve their financial issues. Or they could go down to the meatworkers union office and kick a few heads to find out where the hidden $4 million per annum has gone, and whether that could be used to pay the bills.

Helen Kelly is Dreamin’

Living in a world where an union can hide $4m of missing members cash and think they are pure as the driven snow means Helen Kelly should consider running for the Greens who really value sanctimony.

Instead of doing what an honest person would do, the aspiring MP for Rongotai hits out at anyone she can blame to cover up the $4m a year the meat workers are hiding. Yesterday she wrote a snivelling, whinging, cloth cap socialist rant on Stuff, saying Talleys need to share the wealth and stop being so anti-union as the union wants to lead us all to a land of milk and honey.

Is it the ultimate result of colonisation unresolved, that one family, of European origin, is able to determine the economic future of a workforce that is more than 60 per cent Maori and which, for centuries, derived its living from that same sea and land from which the Talley family now make its wealth?

These are tough questions that we will need to answer if we are not to let more than 1300 workers and 5000 children go to the wall as their employer Affco, owned by Talley’s Group, seeks changes to a collective agreement.

In the meatworks, a large part of a worker’s daily pay depends on their team meeting daily tally kill rates, which, in turn, is reliant on the number of people in their team.

Affco wants to have the ultimate ability to determine and change either of these elements – the tally kill number and the team numbers – giving it the ability to reduce workers’ earnings by shifting the goalposts.

Nice lefty bullshit spin Helen.

Un-spinning, Talleys are offering workers an average 5% pay increase for accepting terms like being productive and creating more wealth for everyone. The union won’t budge on productivity, and being highly skilled at low bastardry they are trying to force Talleys to accept terms out of the 1960s to score political points, not make everyone better off.

The Media on the AFFCO Industrial Action

As usual the media have failed to do any investigative journalism in this action. They aren’t asking the questions, just repeating Simon Oosterman’s and Helen Kelly’s press statements.

The questions they should be asking are:

  • How many workers have defected from the union to work on new contracts?
  • How much extra on average are the workers on new contracts earning?
  • Where is the missing $4m from the Meatworkers Union Accounts?
  • Over ten years this is a missing $40m, so where is it?
  • Why aren’t the branches registered with the Societies and trusts Registrar as Incorporated Societies as required by the Employment Relations Act?
  • Why aren’t the accounts of the branches consolidated into the Meatworkers parent accounts as required by standard accounting practice?
  • Why did Helen Kelly get told her intervention was not required?
  • Are the meatworkers union employees getting the same sort of money the HSU is paying their union leaders?
  • Is staff salaries where the hidden money is going?
  • Have unions forced shorter and shorter seasons by making silly demands and refusing to improve efficiency?
  • Will the meatworkers union trot out unfortunate employees who complain about AFFCO when AFFCO has been very generous to them?
  • Where are the Shed Fund monies accounted for in South Island works? (Clue here…not in the accounts)
  • How large are the funds stored in the Shed Funds?
  • Why are the Shed Funds not showing in the accounts?
  • Why do Meat Companies pay the wages of Union Officials when all they do is union business in an office supplied by the Meat Companies?
  • Is that a way of keeping the union bosses rorts off the books?

Very simply questions…very surprising answers.

I think we are heading down the track of needing an inquiry of some sort into union finances. Wait until I start on the EPMU and their missing money.

Over capacity?

The Meatworkers Union refuses to change to improve productivity. That is the main reason why they have been locked out from AFFCO works.

They simply refuse to change work methods and improve chain rates. It is much the same as the refusal of wharfies to increase crane rates in line with competitors.

Their intransigence is going to cost a great many of them their jobs.

Even the union bosses acknowledge this, but they won;t be saying it publicly. I have managed to obtain the latest accounts (2011) from the Otago Southland branch of the Meatworkers Union. I will blog extensively on the legal problems that the union is about to find themselves in, but before I do have a look at this paragraph from the branch accounts where they admit that there is significant over capacity in the meatworks.

Over capacity is going to mean job losses. Refusal to change with the times guarantees that many more are going to loss their jobs. A combination of over capacity and union bolshiness isn;t going to be good for workers.

The accounts also show where the money is flowing…I will blog on the implications of that in subsequent posts.

Kidz…stay in skool

The influence of Simon Oosterman is coming to the fore we are now getting photos of poor hard done meat-workers. It is nothing but a PR stunt by professional agitators.

The union’s like to moan about corporate PR but they have fully paid 24/7 professional doom merchants like Helen Kelly and Simon Oosterman working on stunts like this.

Is it any wonder that AFFCO is locking people out who “won’t” work?

Farrar on the MWU dodgy books

Kiwiblog

David Farrar has examined the weak excuses of the Meatworkers Union reasoning behind having a dodgy set of books. The SFO has said that they won’t look into dodgy accounting practices and it is clear that the current regulatory regime isn;t working either. Is it time for a Unions Commision to oversee the prudential operations of unions who guard millions of members funds? I think so.

The union has confirmed that the vast majority of their funds are held in their unincorporated branches, whom they do not publicly publish accounts for. They claim their members belong to the branches, not to the main union.

However this is legally not possible. The union as a whole is the registered union, not the branches. Also the collective agreement with Affco is with the NZ Meat Workers Union, not any branch unions. And finally the union membership fees are paid into a bank account in the name of the NZ Meat Workers Union.

Unions have huge special rights and powers under the law.  To gain these powers they must be registered under the Employment Relations Act 2000. S14(1)(b) states a union must be an incorporated society. These branches are either part of the main union (in which case their accounts should form part of their published accounts) or they are not part of the main union, in which case as unincorporated societies they are not unions, and can not receive union dues.

By requiring the union to be an incorporated society, the law also requires them to make publicly available their accounts. Most unions do this responsibly. The Meatworkers Union is not. They are refusing to make publicly available their overall income, expenditure and assets.

You can’t claim that the branches are what union members belong to, and use that to hide all your income.

The normal practice with an incorporated society is your accounts show details for both the parent (in this case the NZ union) and the group (the NZ union and the branches combined). I know this first hand as when I did the accounts for Red Cross in the early 1990s, one of my jobs was to consolidate around 33 branch accounts into the group accounts.

The MWU is obviously refusing to publish group accounts, because they wish to hide their finances. That is incompatible with being a registered union and an incorporated society.