The union covering postal workers said Australia Post is creating its own “postal pandemic” by cutting back on services and conditions for postal workers.
The communications division of the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (CEPU) said the federal pandemic regulations, legislated in May, are causing havoc.
That seems to be borne out by reports on September 2 that Australia Post management has asked Victorian workers to volunteer to help clear a backlog in parcels, using their own vehicles.
This came after Australia Post rejected the union’s call for “additional financial recognition for workers who have put their safety on the line to deliver on record revenue through the worst pandemic we’ve seen in 100 years”.
On August 31, Australia Post asked its Victorian workers, including staff from administration and finance, to “urgently” help clear the backlog of items.
The pandemic has generated a rise in online shopping and the union is campaigning for improvements to the service. It is also taking a stand against cuts to posties’ pay and conditions: one in four delivery-based jobs are on the line and those who remain face a cut of up to 30% in take-home pay.
The union said that management’s cost-cutting, including freezing workers’ wages and cutting overtime by directing staff to finish on time, and therefore not deliver items, has led to the current backlog crisis.
Australia Post’s senior executives were to receive about $7 million in bonus payments, according to the CEPU. But on September 2, Australia Post chairperson Lucio Di Bartolomeo said the board had decided that none of the executive team would be receiving “a short-term incentive payment” for the year.
“Attacking our postal service and the jobs of Australia Post workers at any time is bad enough. To do it during a global pandemic is disgraceful”, the CEPU said.
Cuts only endanger work conditions, putting the livelihoods of Australia Post workers at risk, it said. Postal workers are playing a key role in keeping people in touch during the pandemic, and especially for those in lockdown.
The union is concerned that the regulations, which Labor MPs opposed, will become permanent, and it wants the government to rule out selling off the service.
“We think [that] winding back their regulatory requirements is setting up our Australia Post to be sold off to the highest bidder. And the Government isn’t ruling it out, either,” the CEPU said.
Greens MPs and Labor MPs produced dissenting reports after a parliamentary inquiry looking into the changes to Australia Post’s service delivery standards and postal service timeframes was tabled. The Greens called for greater public consultation. Labor said the government arguments used to justify the regulations are false, including that: Australia Post is going broke because of COVID-19; volumes of addressed letters have collapsed; postal workers only deliver letters and are not busy; and that the changes were so urgent the government could not consult.
The CEPU is asking the public to help them campaign for a quality, reliable postal service.
“At this time of uncertainty, we must protect local jobs and the postal service that is so valued,” it said. It called for community support for a parliamentary disallowance motion, to be dealt with by the Senate by October 6, to stop the regulatory changes Australia Post is pursuing.
[You can help by adding your name to a letter to Senators here.]