SFO complaint over union accounts

ANDREA FOX
Last updated 12:59 11/04/2012

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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 Serious Fraud Office receives almost 500 complaints a year and while all are evaluated, only a small proportion are formally investigated.

Affco chief executive Hamish Simson said it appeared from the union's published financial statements that only a fraction of its total income has been declared.

Affco workers contributed more than $500,000 to the union annually, paying $5.95 each a week, he said. Affco workers represented less than 10 per cent of the 23,000 members claimed by the union, yet it only declared revenue of just over $700,000 a year, he said.

Kelly said Talleys, which in February imposed an indefinite lockout of more than 1000 of its North Island unionised plant staff, is "mischief making".

Talleys paid the members' fees to branches of the national union, whose accounts were audited but not statutorily required to be published, she said.

Kelly claimed Talleys was behind a complaint to the New Zealand Accounting Society around six months ago about the union's accounts. The complaint was not upheld.

"Now they're sneaking off to the SFO because they didn't get anywhere."

Talleys would be better off working how it was going to resolve the current industrial relations standoff, and resume negotiations for a new collective agreement.

The Serious Fraud Office receives almost 500 complaints a year and while all are evaluated, only a small proportion are formally investigated.

Meat Workers Union general secretary Dave Eastlake could not be contacted.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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