'We should not be calling him sir' - businessman's knighthood questioned

The decision to give one of New Zealand's leading businessmen a knighthood is angering the union movement.

Sir Peter Talley’s recognition for services to business and philanthropy has been questioned by the union movement. Source: 1 NEWS

Sir Peter Talley was recognised for services to business and philanthropy but questions have been raised about whether he deserved the award.

Talley's is one of New Zealand's largest food companies and sells and exports seafood, frozen vegetables, meat and dairy products.

"In my view this is not a man that we should be calling sir in this country," Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said.

"This is an award that values money over principle."

Unsafe work practices have cost Talley's more than $100,000, and one case resulted in in the death of a worker, while last year ACC paid almost $2million to nearly 1300 injured Talley's workers.

In 2012 a Talley's meat workers lockout regarding an employment dispute with the union.

But those who supported his knighthood, such as Finance Minister Bill English said the award was well deserved.

"It's a big complicated business and I'm sure there's been things go wrong over time, but I think the contribution he has made over the years has been beneficial."

United Future Leader Peter Dunne said Sir Peter had been an "outstanding contributor" to his industry.

While Nelson MP Nick Smith said Sir Peter had created up to 600 jobs and donated to local charities.

Sir Peter, who took over his father's company in 1964 with his brother, refused to comment about the union's criticisms.

The Talley's wealth is said to be worth an estimated $300million.