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2020-07-07

Senate establishes inquiry in to Australia Post; members force privatisation commitment

It has been a big week for CEPU/CWU members. We can't remember the last time the future of our members' jobs and your efforts to keep our communities connected have been a focal point of debate in our Parliament for what has been almost an entire sitting period. 

And whilst a vote to disallow Australia Post's service slashing, job killing regulation changes will not progress in the Senate until August, we certainly welcome the announcement of the Senate Inquiry into the future of Australia Post's service delivery – an inquiry that your Union has been lobbying for and will give our members and the public an opportunity to scrutinise the true extent of Post’s plans. 

It is now critical that Australia Post commit to not making any irreversible changes to jobs or services whilst that inquiry is on foot. The inquiry report is due to be handed down by 11 August 2020.

Our members' jobs support a vital public service. The public deserve to know exactly how planned changes to Australia Post will impact on our communities, and those plans deserve to be interrogated properly.

We know that throughout this process, the Australia Post CEO has been fudging the figures on volumes, and she has been trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes when it comes to her plans for job cuts.

For example, the model Australia Post has used to consult with your Union, and with members in their delivery workplaces, shows that 1 in 4 delivery jobs would be cut from the delivery model - two get relegated to delivering just letters and untracked packets on alternate days, one gets in to a van to deliver just parcels and one gets cut altogether. We've never seen a faster back peddle - and that's a good thing.

And whilst we welcome Australia Post's commitment to no forced redundancies for those directly impacted by their Alternate Delivery Model (ADM), they refuse to divulge just how many voluntary redundancies they plan to offer and have repeatedly refused to provide the same undertaking for no forced redundancies for those employees who will be indirectly impacted by these changes.

Now, that position is in stark contradiction to statements made by the Prime Minister and others in Parliament this week, specifically that Australia Post is "keeping all the jobs" and "protecting all the jobs". Upon hearing this commitment from the Prime Minister, we immediately wrote to Australia Post to confirm whether the Prime Minister was mistaken, or misinformed, when he gave that commitment in Parliament or if Australia Post had indeed changed their commitments around job security - but so far they have failed to provide us with a response.

It is a continued demonstration that Australia Post has clearly been caught out and Ms Holgate will say and do anything to get her service slashing, job killing reforms to stand up. She thought she could run rough shot over workers, your Union, and the communities you serve and now she's being forced to explain herself - and, it seems, possibly giving commitments to politicians that workers are still waiting to hear about.

Nevertheless, all of this will now be teased out through the inquiry process, and as it becomes clear that a motion seeking to disallow the regulation changes will now not be voted on until August, Australia Post should commit to the status quo. It is the right thing to do to allow the Senate Inquiry to progress without being prejudiced and will ensure some certainty for your customers and for your jobs.

Our members have put themselves in harm’s way to keep our communities connected throughout the COVID-19 crisis and it is certainly not unreasonable to hope members can be afforded with  some certainty whilst the future of Australia Post's service delivery is being publicly scrutinised .

Lastly, the Government's commitment to not privatising Australia Post is most certainly welcome.

We sought this commitment from Minister Fletcher, twice – the first time being when we met with him in April, and again when we wrote to him in May. Although it's a shame it has taken so long to come to pass, it is a massive achievement to have secured the Federal Government's unequivocal commitment to keeping Australia Post in public hands.

In wrapping up, it's important for members to understand that the current Parliament is a very hostile environment, particularly towards workers. This is demonstrated by the Government's gagging of Labor Leader Anthony Albanese 18 times in just four days whilst trying to commence debate around Post's changes, in the House of Representatives (but, along with Member for Chifley Ed Husic, he got one over them today - click here to watch the video).

And whilst we didn't achieve a disallowance in this sitting period, the lobbying undertaken by your Union, and those who have assisted us, and the public pressure you applied to Post and our politicians secured a significant public scrutiny process through the Senate Inquiry, and the commitment not to privatise Australia Post.

These are major wins - wins which would not have been possible without the tireless work of our members who spoke to everybody they knew and asked them to send tens of thousands of messages to our MPs and cross-bench Senators.

We’ll certainly be maximising the process now available to us to give our members the voice they deserve in that inquiry, and holding the Government to their privatisation commitments.

We're now shifting our focus to these important next steps to stop the #PostalPandemic and #SaveOurPost - and we'll be keeping members involved in those developments.

Yours in unity,

SHANE MURPHY
NATIONAL PRESIDENT

GREG RAYNER
NATIONAL SECRETARY

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