New Zealand meat packer Affco has reportedly accused the New Zealand Meat Workers Union of lodging fraudulent accounts as the two groups prepare to enter a fresh round of mediation. 

According to local reports, Affco has lodged a complaint with the Serious Fraud Office, alleging that the union has failed to declare all of its income. 

Affco chief executive Hamish Simson reportedly said the company was required to deduct union fees from staff wages. Simson claimed Affco union members paid NZ$5.95 (US$4.87) a week each to the union, which totalled more than $500,000 a year. 

“It appears from the union’s published financial statements that only a fraction of its total income has been declared,” Simson insisted. “Affco workers represent less than 10% of the 23,000 members the union says it has and yet it only declares revenue of just over $700,000 per annum.”

The union denied the allegation and stated that it audits its four branches separately from its national account. 

Affco and the union are locked in a dispute which began during standard contract negotiations in February. The company has locked out nearly 1000 union members at a number of plants and a further 480 workers were locked out during Easter after joining the strikes.

“We are concerned, but not surprised, that Talley’s Affco chose to start their latest smear campaign the day before we go to mediation,” union national secretary Dave Eastlake told the New Zealand Herald

Affco, a subsidiary of privately-held New Zealand food major Talley’s Group, provides chilled and frozen beef, lamb, mutton, goat, and pork cuts to retailers and supermarkets primarily in New Zealand.