A regulation change to be decided this week could see thousands of Australia Post workers lose their jobs – and mail delivery times blow out across the country for customers.
According to the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia (CEPU), Australia Post is pursuing a regulation change which would pave the way for a drastic overhaul of the organisation.
It is understood the Federal Government is already supporting the changes, which will be decided by parliament later this week.
If that final hurdle is cleared, a quarter of postie jobs could be axed and a number of other job cuts could also be made, along with pay cuts.
And that means Australia Post customers could face even longer wait times.
CEPU national president Shane Murphy said Australia Post was arguing the change was necessary in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but said it would also lead to the drastic winding back of postal delivery services, which currently operates five days per week.
“Australia Post is attempting to use COVID-19 as cover to make drastic cuts to jobs and postal services across the country,” Mr Murphy said.
“Australians are relying on our postal service more than ever at the moment and our posties are already struggling to keep up with the current demand, with parcels and letters being left to pile up in our post offices.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find an Australian who hasn’t experienced postal delays in recent months.
“Yet rather than addressing the current issues we all know Australia Post has and making plans to improve our postal service for the future, Australia Post is looking at the current situation as an excuse to slash services and axe jobs.”
Mr Murphy said Aussies were already waiting too long for their post, and if the regulation was passed, we’d be waiting even longer.
“Any politician or Australia Post representative who says this won’t impact customers and workers right around the country is lying through their teeth,” he said.
“Whether this is a case of fattening up Australia Post for privatisation or simply an opportunistic attack on workers, the end result is a bad deal for Australians.
“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 proposal comes hot on the heels of a slew of complaints levelled against Australia Post recently.
Late last month, a news.com.au reader shared footage of an Australia Post contractor roughly flinging his parcel to the ground on his front yard – despite the customer being home at the time.
Earlier in May, Australia Post took the extraordinary step of addressing hundreds of complaints regarding delivery delays during the coronavirus pandemic on Facebook, while others claim posties are regularly failing to knock or buzz to deliver parcels, leaving customers to pick up their packages from their post office in person.
And last October, there was widespread anger after it was revealed Australia Post boss Christine Holgate had become the country’s highest paid civil servant, earning more than $2.5 million in 2018/19.
It’s far less than her predecessor Ahmed Fahour though, whose $6.8 million salary sparked widespread condemnation and led to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull admitting “that remuneration is too high”.
Mr Murphy said it was especially “shocking” to consider cuts now as Australians have relied on posties during the COVID-19 lockdown period, which saw workers “put themselves in harm’s way” to serve customers.
“If these regulatory changes are not disallowed by the federal parliament, they will have a devastating impact on the service Australia Post provides to our community and on thousands of jobs – smack bang in the middle of a recession and an unemployment crisis,” Mr Murphy said.
If the plan goes ahead, Australia Post could scrap the current system which has four postie runs staffed by four posties, instead requiring two posties to complete two runs each.
They would deliver letters and small untracked parcels on alternating days, while the third worker would take a parcel-only run, and the fourth would lose their job.
The union is encouraging Aussies to contact their local MP to protest the move here.
In a statement, Australia Post downplayed the impact of the change.
“As announced in April, to remain sustainable Australia Post will soon temporarily implement an alternating delivery model (ADM) in metropolitan areas, where letters will be delivered every second business day,” the statement reads.
“This change will allow us to retrain and redeploy some posties to where we need them most, parcel processing and delivery. Our services to rural and regional Australia will not be impacted and deliveries to a PO Box will remain the same.
“Unfortunately, some people are speculating what this change will mean, including forcing the cuts of jobs, pay and services.
“No postie that is directly impacted by the implementation of the ADM will be forced to accept a redundancy. Australia Post also has no plans to cut posties’ take-home pay. These changes have been requested to enable Australia Post to continue to offer important community services and remain sustainable for the future.”
The statement concludes by claiming “Australians will continue to see Australia Post delivering either a parcel or letter to their home or their business, every working day.”