News National Australia Post workers threatened with disciplinary action for exposing parcel backlogs

Australia Post workers threatened with disciplinary action for exposing parcel backlogs

Tensions are mounting between Australia Post workers and management over parcel backlogs. Photo: Getty
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Australia Post workers are being told not to take photos of mounting backlogs of parcels – or else.

Piles and piles of parcels awaiting delivery are cramming Victorian delivery centres, and staff have been told if they take photographs – and show those photographs to anyone – they’ll face disciplinary action, the posties’ union claims.

The backlog in delivery centres across Victoria has reached such an extent that it poses a potential safety hazard for staff, Communications Workers Union Victorian state secretary Leroy Lazaro told The New Daily.

In July, The New Daily published photos from inside an Australia Post delivery centre showed a backlog of parcels stored underneath a delivery manager’s desk.

Undelivered parcels piled up under a manager’s desk at an Australia Post delivery centre. Photo: Supplied

Lee Morton, a postie from NSW’s Central Coast, told a parliamentary inquiry into the coronavirus service changes that “mail has been withheld from customers who have paid to have it delivered”.

The New Daily put the disciplinary action threats claims to Australia Post.

“Due to the personal information that is displayed on parcels and letters, and to protect our customers’ privacy, the photography of mail is prohibited other than when it is part of a delivery procedure such as when a parcel is safe dropped,” an Australia Post spokesperson said.

“Safety is our first priority and our people are strongly encouraged to report anything they deem hazardous or unsafe, and to bring this to the attention of their team leader so appropriate action can be taken to prevent any harm.”

Aus Post bosses ‘out of touch’

Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate on Thursday came under fire over an extraordinary push to have Pauline Hanson stubby holders delivered to public housing residents in locked-down Melbourne.

Christine Holgate has come under fire over Pauline Hanson stubby holders. Photo: TND

Ms Holgate is Australia’s highest-paid civil servant, earning more than $2.5 million last year, and her reported bid for senior executives to be paid $7 million in pandemic bonuses was shot down last week.

By contrast, a postie’s annual salary ranges from $46,004 to $51,343 depending on years of service.

The New Daily asked Australia Post to respond to postal workers’ claims that its alternating delivery model (ADM) is making parcel backlogs worse.

The firm defended the changes, and blamed coronavirus restrictions for the ongoing delivery time blowouts that have seen some customers wait up to two weeks for a parcel delivery.

“Significant increases in parcel volumes, coupled with social distancing requirements, reduced flights, increased safety measures and workforce reductions due to Stage 4 restrictions in Victoria mean that we are experiencing increased volumes for our posties and parcel contractors to deliver. This is leading to increased delays in our delivery network,” a spokesperson for Australia Post said.

“By moving some of our posties into vans, it gives them the capacity they need to deliver the essential items that our customers have been ordering online.

“In fact, in recent weeks as a result of the implementation of the alternating delivery model, our posties are delivering more parcels year on year than they have previously. The alternating delivery model is providing additional parcel delivery capability as planned.”

Pandemic service cuts criticised

Australia Post’s ‘ADM was pitched to the Morrison government by Ms Holgate in March, as the solution to unprecedented demand for parcel deliveries due to the pandemic, but it has only exacerbated the parcels backlog, Mr Lazaro said.

The temporary regulatory relief, which is set to expire in June 2021, has allowed Australia Post to extend delivery times, scrap some services, and redeploy workers to other departments.

Australia Post’s COVID changes have exacerbated delivery delays, the posties’ union says.

Mr Lazaro slammed Australia Post’s management as “out of touch”.

“Look at the reality and listen to the posties. Suspend the ADM while we were going through COVID-19. It’s not the appropriate model,” he said.

Ms Holgate argued the ADM was necessary to cope with an unprecedented surge in demand for parcel deliveries and decline in letter volumes due to the pandemic, but has since been accused of misrepresenting figures in order to justify service cuts.

Australia Post should have instead kept posties on their regular delivery rounds instead of adopting the ADM, as small parcels can be delivered much more efficiently via bike than van, Mr Lazaro said.

“We had four people delivering small parcels on the footpath. Australia Post have removed two of them, and of the two that have been removed they’ve been replaced with one van as a dedicated resource and another ‘floater’ in a van helping out,” he explained.

Mr Lazaro accused Australia Post of “trying to avoid putting extra staff on and use COVID to ram through changes”.

“They will not acknowledge the fact that they’ve removed efficient resources and replaced them with less-efficient resources,” he said.