Joe Hendren

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Sunday, November 05, 2017

Fletchers shut down in the face of accountability - a long history

On October 25 this year FIRST Union members and Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) protested outside the Fletcher AGM at Auckland museum to highlight low pay and to oppose Fletcher's plans to build houses on the culturally significant Ihumatao site.
The Chairman shut down the meeting. What might not be widely known is that the Chairman only gained the power to shut down an AGM in 1988 following similar protests at Fletcher AGMs in the 1980s.
From Foreign Control Watchdog 60 December 1988 p4.
The directors of Fletcher Challenge Limited obviously feel very sensitive about their connections with South Africa and Chile and about their treatment of Maori land in the Bay of Plenty and Indian land in Canada. In true democratic tradition two motions passed at the FCL annual meeting in Wellington in November were aimed at silencing the criticisms of the company's policies by small shareholders. (Remember CAFCA is now a capitalist organisation which owns 200 FCL shares).
To stand for a directorship of FCL now you will have to own 5000 shares. At today's prices that will cost you $24000. That move will rule out of contention 77% of the company's shareholders but more importantly for the company will, mean that ratbags such as Dick Cuthbert of Hart cannot stand for election. In addition, the chairman may adjourn a general meeting "without giving any reason therefore” if it becomes. "unruly or disruptive”.
We can only assume that the directors of Fletchers have been so impressed by the style of democracy that is practised in their favourite countries - Chile and South Africa that they have decided to implement similar strategies here. Incidentally, it was left to Bruce Wallace, ex-frontperson of Foreign Correspondent, to explain the reasons for the new rules in the”Christchurch Star” on November 2, 1988. Brucie said that the proposal giving the chairman power to adjourn the meeting as he saw fit was put forward because, in previous years "shareholders had not been able to enjoy the meetings as they should”. Of course the blacks of South Africa, the Chileans, Canadian Indians and Maori are having a ball."

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