Around 100 posties and unionists rallied outside the headquarters of Australia Post on August 1 to protest the latest attempts by its management to undermine the wages and conditions of its employees and reduce its service to the community.
Australia Post intends to close the Fitzroy delivery centre, which covers the suburbs of Clifton Hill, North Fitzroy, Fitzroy, Abbotsford and Collingwood. Posties and night staff for the suburbs of North Fitzroy and Clifton Hill are moving to the Preston delivery centre, but staff covering the other suburbs have been told that they are no longer required to service their area.
Instead, Australia Post intends to split their jobs in two, with mail sorting taking place in the city while delivery will be done separately by new staff or contractors without access to a meal break or penalty rates. By turning previously full- and part-time jobs into piecemeal jobs, Australia Post hopes to reduce the wages by making it impossible for overtime rates to kick in. The new staff will also only receive $15.80 an hour — a pay cut of 15% — and a shift time of four hours.
Service in the affected areas will drop due to mail taking longer to reach its destination or being misdirected. The posties who sort the mail will no longer have any connection with the community they serve.
The 17 posties whose jobs are on the line have so far been offered night sorting positions from 1am to 9.30am, with the usual penalty rate for working unsociable hours reduced from 30% to 15%. If they don't accept these positions they are left scrambling for other jobs in another facility, where few full-time positions are available.
The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU), which covers postal workers and was supposed to be consulted about this decision, was ignored and staff were simply asked to fill in a survey on their future work preferences.
At the rally, Joan Doyle, Victorian state secretary of the communications division of the CEPU, contrasted this latest attack with the double-digit pay increases and large cash bonuses of between $105,000 and $264,000 that upper management had awarded themselves. Australia Post's before-tax profit in the 2005-06 financial year was $516.6 million.
The current actions by management follow previous proposals to privatise Australia Post and protracted negotiations for the upcoming enterprise bargaining agreement. Management is attempting to have no limits on the contracting out of work, the franchising (privatising) of retail outlets, the use of AWAs (individual contracts) and the ability to downgrade workers' hours from full time to part time.
Further action will be forthcoming with a protest BBQ taking place outside the managing director's residence at 12 Copelen St South Yarra on August 12 at noon.