On February 3, 50 communications sector workers and community members gathered outside the Geelong Mail Centre to protest the proposed privatisation and downsizing of Australia Post.
These changes would see further job losses in the already hard-hit Geelong region.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia, the Community and Public Sector Union, Geelong Trades Hall, Socialist Alliance and the Australian Labor Party.
Richard Marles, local ALP member for Corio, and Ged Kearney, ACTU President addressed the gathering.
Kearney said: "Mail delivery is one of those things that keeps communities connected, it's something that every civil society should have. Not only that, it provides good decent public service jobs that are the heart and soul of communities like Geelong."
The Federal LNP Government’s Commission of Audit, chaired by the former head of the Business Council of Australia, has been eyeing off essential services, including postal and health services, for possible privatisation.
Joan Doyle, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Communications Workers Union (Postal and Telecommunication Division), described Australia Post’s plans to put regional jobs and next-day delivery on the chopping block.
The recent closure of sorting operations at the Geelong Mail Centre has meant Geelong mail is now being sent to Dandenong for sorting before being delivered to Geelong homes, all in the name of neoliberal “efficiency”. Even worse, will be the service of rural Victorian towns further from Melbourne, mail from Ballarat, Bendigo and Warnambool will all now go via Dandenong for sorting.
While Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour enjoyed a pay increase from $2.8 million in 2012 to $4.7 million in 2013, postal workers must battle to keep their jobs off the chopping block. The proposal to reduce the frequency of mail deliveries to three times a week or less, and the introduction of a “user pays” system to access mail would see a dramatic drop in the quality of mail services, hitting regional areas and low-income earners particularly hard and is the thin edge of the wedge to privatising Australia Post.
Meanwhile these "efficiency cuts" will only save $2 million a year (just over the CEO's pay increase) whilst mail services are severely delayed for regional and rural Victorians.