NZ Meat Workers Union

The PSA Union ruthlessly picks on the little guy


Imagine the scene in the schoolyard. The bully grabs the scrawny new kid and hits him repeatedly. When he asks why the bully is picking on him he replies, ” You are helping Kevin with his homework. You have to stop doing that because he refuses to give me his lunch money and is making me look weak” The new kid is puzzled. ” But I only help him with French,” he replies ” Why aren’t you kicking John and Alan who are the senior students that tutor him for all his other subjects and also help him train for sports? ” “What do you take me for? Have you seen the size of Alan and John? ?I need to send a message to the other kids not to mess with me and you’re that message kid.”

In the news right now the scrawny new kid is online retailer My Food Bag who is being pressured by the PSA Union to end its relationship with its frozen?pea supplier, Talley?s.

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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

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.

Is the Meatworkers Union telling the truth?

With the SFO becoming involved the Meatworkers Union and their useful helpers such as Helen Kelly have been quick to start explaining…and we all know what that means.

NZ Meat Workers Union?general secretary Dave Eastlake is “positive” the Serious Fraud Office will reject AFFCO’s calls for an investigation.

He told NBR Online the meat processor’s claims are mischievous and “a load of rubbish”.

Mr Eastlake says union members pay their fees to the branches – which have their own set of audited accounts – and the branch offices pay the national office a capitation fee based on their annual membership.

Now that is interesting because the?CEO?Hamish Simson talked to Larry Williams on NewstalkZB about the issue and stated that they pay all the union dues for union members to a single bank account and that account is in the name of the NZ Meatworkers Union and AFFCO is 10% of the union’s membership. There is no?separation?into branches by AFFCO.


So the Union seems to be telling porkies…they are at least being very economical with the truth by saying that the payments go through the branches. But those branches are unincorporated…which is illegal for a union. All unions must be by law Incorporated Societies. So taking funds through the branches would be illegal.

Where have the millions gone?

Once again though it focusses on the fact that unions have the employers deduct union dues for them. It is my view that such payroll protection for union dues should be removed. If unions want people to join and pay dues they should do what almost every other society does and go and get automatic payment forms filled out by their members. It shouldn;t be the job of the employer to collect the union dues on behalf of the union.

SBW Helen, SBW

? Waikato Times

Helen Kelly certainly isn’t listening to the Talleys after they wrote a letter telling her that her special kind of meddling wasn’t wanted in their company. Now she is outraged by AFFCO writing a letter of complaint to the Serious Fraud Office about the dodgy account practices of the Meatworkers Union. She just couldn’t help herself and had to mouth off:

The Talleys company’s “hatred” of unions is behind a request by the Affco meat company to the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the financial accounts of the NZ Meat Workers Union, says CTU president Helen Kelly.

Affco, owned by the South Island’s Talley family, has laid a complaint with the SFO, alleging the union is not complying with its statutory reporting requirements and that there appears to be irregularities in the union’s financial accounts.

The Talley’s should just take the advice of Cactus Kate and say “So Bloody What” to any enquiries about their so-called “hatred” of unions.

And then they should up the stakes on Helen Kelly and the Meatworkers Union and hire Rob Campbell for their board. He quit the ?Ports of Auckland because they were being big girls blouses in their?dealings?with the Martime Union. If they got Rob Campbell on board then that would be a great big FU and SBW to Helen Kelly and the Meatworkers Union.

Helen Kelly should mind her p’s and q’s though because the CTU accounts need looking into as well.