Affco asking the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the financial accounts of the meat workers' union is a stunt to detract from its actions over locked-out workers, the union says.

Affco chief executive Hamish Simson said the company was required to deduct union fees from staff wages and pass that on to the New Zealand Meat Workers and Related Trades Union. He alleged the union was not complying with its statutory reporting requirements, and there were irregularities in its financial accounts.

"It appears from the union's published financial statements that only a fraction of its total income has been declared,'' Mr Simson said.

Affco and the union are locked in a bitter battle which began during standard contract negotiations in February, with the company locking out nearly 1000 union members at a number of plants.


A further 480 workers were locked out during Easter after joining the strikes - a move the union said was to avoid the company having to pay penal rates.

Mr Simson today said Affco union members paid $5.95 a week each to the union, which totalled more than $500,000 a year.

"Affco workers represent less than 10 per cent of the 23,000 members the union says it has and yet it only declares revenue of just over $700,000 per annum,'' he said.

"More and more of our staff are starting to question where their money has gone. With the union now asking the public for donations, every workers' dollar must be accounted for.''

But union national secretary Dave Eastlake accused Affco of wasting money on a "publicity stunt complaint that has already be found to be without substance to detract attention from their brutal lock out of Affco workers and families''.

The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants had already investigated a similar complaint and advised no action would be taken, Mr Eastlake said.

He was confident the union's finances were in order and said all branches accounts were audited annually.

"It is disingenuous for Talley's Affco to try and suggest there is money missing from the union's national account when they know we audit our four branches separately from our national account, which is a common legal practice,'' he said.


"We are concerned, but not surprised, that Talley's Affco chose to start their latest smear campaign the day before we go to mediation.''

The union was an independent society funded entirely by weekly donations from it members, which increased from 7000 to 22,000 members during the peak season.

Each of the four branches set their own fees, and each paid a "capitation fee'' to fund the national union, which was set at $51 per member, for the annualised membership of each branch.

A Serious Fraud Office spokeswoman confirmed the complaint had been received and said it would go through a 20-day evaluation period. After that it would be decided whether the complaint was taken further.