By David Johanson
MELBOURNE — Rank and file postal workers have launched a campaign called Keep Australia Post Public (KAPP) and are calling for support in their fight to save Australia's post offices and their jobs. Under Australia Post management's latest gimmick, Retail Post, 25% of post offices could be closed.
Australia Post has launched this program of closure and mass retrenchment at a time when it is recording record profits ($144 million last financial year). While Prime Minister Paul Keating proclaims jobs as the number one priority, Australia Post is planning to shed at least 1800 jobs in five years, in the process turning the postal network upside down and risking severe damage to one of the world's most successful and profitable public utilities.
The Australia Post plan involves replacing traditional, full-service, post offices with business centres, amalgamated delivery centres and new retail franchises. Staff fear these changes will severe reduce the quality of postal advice and service.
It is expected that 77 Victorian country post offices will be among the first to go if the proposal is not defeated. The franchise shopfronts will be self-serve, and customers will only be able to buy stamps in bulk and in plastic packages. It is expected that franchises will open and close according to the whims of the market. Relocation of suburban delivery staff from local post offices to large delivery centres is likely to reduce sorting and delivery standards.
"The sale of our public assets is very short sighted, because leasing will be more expensive in the long term", says KAPP spokesperson Phil Young. "We are not opposed to change, but these changes don't make any sense. They are driven by the ideology of privatisation. We are asking people to write to the federal minister for communications to stop this backward step."
KAPP may be contacted at PO Box 100, Carlton South 3053.