Protests for victimised postie


Union Solidarity activists blockaded the Dandenong mail distribution centre overnight on September 19 in response to Australia Post's proposed transfer of a union delegate who took strike action three months ago.

The protest delayed mail deliveries by stopping all trucks from entering or leaving the centre, but workers were not prevented from going to work.

Dandenong mail centre workers went on strike in June in response to Australia Post's move to cancel penalty rates on three Sunday shifts during public holiday weekends next year when rostered days off fall on those Sundays. The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union said that under the change mail officers, who receive a base annual wage of $33,691, will be $160 out of pocket, and some will become ineligible for the extra week of leave provided to shift workers who work for 10 Sundays.

An interim order issued by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission prevented the mail centre workers from engaging in unprotected industrial action, so they could not join the September 18 protest.

The roster changes are part of a broader restructuring of Australia Post ahead of its privatisation. Australia Post has already closed some regional delivery centres and replaced many full-time and part-time staff with contractors on shorter shifts.

Four-hour shifts allow Australia Post to avoid paying penalty rates. By replacing full- and part-time jobs with casual, piecemeal jobs, the company can reduce overtime payments, effectively cutting wages by 15% for the new shift workers.

In 2007, Australia Post recorded a $500 million before-tax profit and the company's CEO Graeme John was paid a whopping $2.6 million.