In the lead-up to the June 28 union protests against the Work Choices laws, Australia Post issued a number of bulletins warning staff that taking industrial action under the current enterprise agreement was illegal and that disciplinary action would be taken against those absent from work without authorisation.
These directives were read out to all workers by their supervisors, and staff were expected to sign off saying that they had heard and understood the information. Some refused.
At the Adelaide Mail Centre (AMC), workers who signed a letter encouraging attendance at the Work Choices protest were warned, in writing, by the facility manager that their conduct might be in breach of Australia Post's code of ethics. Workers were not even allowed to change shifts to attend the protest in their own time.
On June 27, all Australia Post workplaces displayed an Industrial Relations Commission order demanding that the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) postal division advise its members not to take industrial action.
However, on June 28, about 35 postal workers and supporters defiantly marched from the AMC to the rally. Many who felt obliged to stay at work were disappointed with the union's lack of support.
In Victoria, some Australia Post workers were told that they'd be fined $6500 if they took part in the June 28 protest. Others were told that they'd have to pay damages to Australia Post for undelivered mail. Australia Post is likely to take the union to the Federal Court over the issue. Australia Post is also discussing taking action against postal workers who attended not only the June 28 protest against Work Choices, but the protests held last year on June 30 and November 15.
In Sydney, an Australia Post manager was spotted photographing postal workers at the rally and phoning their names through to head office.
From Green Left Weekly, July 5, 2006.
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