Rodney Hide's Union bashing fetish | The Jackal

4 Nov 2012

Rodney Hide's Union bashing fetish

There's been a lot of disinformation being promoted by the right wing at the moment concerning Unions. In fact if you didn't know the real reasons behind what propagandists like David Farrar, Cameron Slater and Rodney Hide were saying, you might believe that Unions are an evil blight on society.

This of course isn't true, with Unions being specifically designed to protect workers rights and ensure they're properly remunerated for their efforts and working in safe conditions. The real reason behind the right wings fevered campaign against Unions is because they want to lower work place standards and more importantly wages.

Unfortunately their accusations have now become entirely defamatory, with Rodney Hide making all sorts of baseless claims about the Meatworkers and Maritime Union's. He claims they're hiding vast amounts of funds and not adhering to their obligations under the law. These are serious accusations, and therefore require a bit more investigation.

Here's Rodney Hide's latest rant in the NBR:

The Maritime Union of New Zealand is in the same pickle as the New Zealand Meatworkers’ Union. It, too, has hidden millions of dollars of spending from the legally required public scrutiny.

Let's stop the deluded Hide right there... There's no evidence that the Meatworkers or Maritime Union's have "hidden millions of dollars". His claim is entirely baseless. The NBR is therefore in breach of publication laws, which require accuracy and fairness. There's also no legal requirement that the public scrutinizes the financial accounts of an Incorporated Society.

Despite there being no legal requirement to do so, the Meatworkers Union has in fact made public its Annual financial report for 2010, which was audited by Chartered Accountants Beck & Associates.

The relevant law within the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 (PDF) states:

23 Annual financial statement

(1) Every society shall deliver annually to the Registrar, in such form and at such time as he requires, a statement containing the following particulars:
(a) The income and expenditure of the society during the society's last financial year:
(b) The assets and liabilities of the society at the close of the said year:
(c) All mortgages, charges, and securities of any description affecting any of the property of the society at the close of the said year.

That means an Incorporated Society isn't required to publish its accounts or make them public as Rodney Hide claims. It simply needs to provide its accounts to the Registrar, which despite the former Act leaders claims, the Meatworkers Union has done.

The Meatworkers Union accounts for 2010 look entirely adequate in consideration to requirements under the law, and it just so happens that the Companies Office agrees. The matter was discussed earlier this year by its Professional Conduct Committee, which found nothing amiss with the accounts and considered the matter closed. That's what makes Rodney Hide's next statement all the more unbelievable!

Following my complaint, the Registrar of Incorporated Societies, Neville Harris, has ordered the Meatworkers’ Union to re-file six years’ of accounts (Hidesight, Aug 24).

Following similar unfounded claims made by Affco during a heated and prolonged industrial dispute with its workers, Affco went to the Serious Fraud Office with a complaint about the Unions accounts, and in April this year the SFO responded:

SFO not pursuing complaint against Meat Workers Union

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced today that it would not be investigating a complaint made regarding the financial affairs of the New Zealand Meat Workers & Related Trades Union Inc.

SFO Chief Executive, Adam Feeley, said that an immediate evaluation of the information provided to SFO investigators failed to disclose any evidence of fraud.

The well-respected Beck & Associates also publicly responded by saying the accounts presented the financial statements fairly and were in accordance with generally accepted accounting practice in New Zealand. Despite these facts, the deluded right wing propagandists have continued their assault, with Cameron Slater writing:

So far the Meatworkers and now the Maritime union have been caught. Millions of dollars of members monies are being hidden by these dodgy unions.


More importantly…because they have failed to comply with the law the union actually does not legally exist. Nor do their agreements with employers. If I was a hardened employer I’d be testing this in court.

By all other accounts, the Union has complied with the law. Slater and Hide are simply trying to discredit Union's by making shit up. The problem here is a sustained attack on Unions in general by the right wing who are not averse to breaking the law themselves in order to further their business interests.

As a case in point, South Pacific Meats Ltd, which like Affco is mainly owned by Talleys group, was recently found by the Employment Relations Authority to have breached the Employment Relations Act 2000 (PDF) ten times. Here's Helen Doyle's ruling (PDF). SPM was fined $30,000 for their unlawfulness. In fact Unions have predominately won their court cases.

So there's a clear-cut case of unlawfulness that unlike the right-wing propagandists, I didn't need to make shit up about. Clearly Rodney Hide and his little echo are entirely pathetic in their efforts to undermine Unions... Only a complete fool would believe anything they say or write.