Hard line on union's hidden millions

The Registrar of Incorporated Societies is putting his foot down over six years of incomplete Meat Workers Union's accounts, hiding millions of dollars.

After questions were raised by NBR columnist Rodney Hide, registrar Neville Harris originally gave the union until October 12 to file its 2011 accounts, including the previously missing branch office accounts.

The union has only provided head office accounts to the Societies Register since 2005.

Mr Harris says the union, formally known as the New Zealand Meat Workers and Related Trades Union, missed the October 12 deadline.

That is because of an Incorporated Societies Act requirement for the union's accounts to be approved by its members at a general meeting, which is being held on November 7.

Union general secretary Graham Cooke told NBR ONLINE last month it was happy to provide a 2011 set of consolidated accounts, but it was battling Mr Harris's request for the previous five years because of the cost.

However, Mr Harris – the deputy secretary of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – is putting his foot down.

The union expected its 2006-10 audited and consolidated accounts to be finished by the end of November but Mr Harris wants them presented and approved at next month's meeting.

"We expect everything to be lodged promptly after the November 7 meeting," Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spin doctor Britton Broun says.

Mr Hide says there's a great deal of public interest in the union's hidden accounts.

"The Meat Workers Union have gone to extraordinary lengths to dodge their legal obligations and to deny the public their legal right to scrutinise their spending.

"The important thing now is to get their financial statements correctly filed with the registrar after years of their failure to do so."

Mr Harris said last month the union's branch office structure might leave the union open to High Court action, which in turn could lead to the liquidation of the organisation, which represents 23,000 people.

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