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Year in review

2014 was a very busy year for our union as Post began a large round of job cuts and reviews. EBA8 was a non-union EBA although supported by a few Branch Secretaries in a (then) secret deal with Post CEO Mr Fahour. Notwithstanding the poor EBA, we have fought Post and protected many workers. The fight will continue in 2015. Some of the significant events of 2014 were:

  • 900 Job cuts exposed in June: CWU National Office notified a dispute in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and demanded a consultation process. The job cuts are a head count move – Post decided how much they wanted to save and converted it to jobs. Every job is important to us. We are negotiating to minimise the number of job cuts, ensure no forced or involuntary redundancies, and ensure that employees receive salary maintenance. At the State level Branches are talking to members and local management about how to mitigate these job cuts.
  • Proposed changes to pay that outraged workers across the country as you understood that you would actually lose a week’s pay now (but it would be paid out on termination). We rejected a proposal that you would lose $200 per pay over 3 pay periods if you took Post’s pay day loan. Thanks to your combined efforts, Post were forced to abandon the proposals.
  • Proposed changes to mail services that potentially would result in large scale job cuts in operational areas and wreck the traditional mail service have been thwarted (for the time being) by the CWU National Office. An Alliance of unions, community and business groups was established. The Alliance met with many politicians and called for policies to protect mail services and jobs, including retain current Community Service Standards.
  • Undermining postal services: Post exaggerated claims of declining mail volumes. The CWU National Office commissioned a study by Canberra based “Australia Institute”. The report found that mail volumes are not falling off a cliff and Post is not going broke. This is confirmed by Post’s Annual Report 2014. Profit after tax was $116 million. Underlying profit before tax was up by 10.3%. Revenue increased to $6.4 billion, up 8.3% on last year. Post 35% reduction claim includes restructuring costs, redundancies and capital expenditure on the new parcel facilities. Most posties are working harder than ever delivering fewer letters but small parcels have replaced decline in volume. CWU pressure has contributed to recent Senate report calling for greater oversight of Post to ensure that a significant public asset is not irreparably damaged.
  • Changes to Post awards: Post wanted to cut current conditions in the process of creating a modern enterprise award. Under the FW Act, these awards ceased to operate at the end of 2013 unless an application was made. We applied to have an award to protect the 36.75 hour week, the hours of duty of delivery, retail, mail, transport, administration and technical areas, 15 days of paid personal/carers leave etc. Else we would be covered by several modern industry awards with for example a 38 hour week. We have proposed that the award increase casual loading to 25% and a minimum of 3 hours for part-timers in line with industry awards.
  • Sale of PostConnect: CWU members reporting PostConnect had been sold to ABnote. Post denied this. We notified a dispute in the FWC, ensuring Post came clean on the sale and forced a proper consultation process to deal with the employment issues when a business is sold.
  • Superannuation cuts to AWOTE indexation: Post unilaterally decided to cut the AWOTE adjustment of FAS to address its superannuation liability. The effect of this is that the previously AWOTE adjusted FAS is effectively frozen for a number of years. The effect on the lump sum is significant. We want members to maintain the benefit and are currently preparing a claim against Post. Post’s claim is a joke when one looks at executive salaries in Post.
  • FWC overturns warning counselling (Delivery). We took this matter to FWC and won. Warning counsellings were issued to 2 Qld members who refused to work excessive overtime. FWC heard the matter and agreed that the overtime was excessive, was a (OHS) risk and directed Post to wipe off all record of the disciplinary actions.

Some other matters dealt with over the year include:

  • Hands off Aussie Post campaign with the privatisation battle won for the moment. A big pat on the back for all members involved in the campaign.
  • New parcel facilities at Melbourne (MPF) and Sydney (SPF) – negotiations over equipment and processes, jobs and work rotations, many health and safety issues eg. Installation of vacuum lifters and hydraulic trolleys and worker health monitoring.
  • Job losses parcel deep sort - union position that savings from extra breaks should be used to reduce the amount of contractor indoor work before cutting postal workers jobs.
  • National delivery modelling tool negotiations to put in place a system based on actual time taken not computer generated predictions.
  • PDOs delivering parcels and Express Post on Saturdays – union negotiated on voluntary basis.
  • Saturday trading in Post Offices - union negotiated on voluntary basis.
  • Outsourcing/offshoring of End User Computing Services in Post’s Information Digital technology – union negotiating for Post to come clean on real plans and proper consultation.
  • Union conducted training HSRs and Deputy HSRs - 5 day initial training and 1 day refresher.
  • CWU members re-instated 3 years after dismissal with backpay: This case involved dismissal of Post workers for sending inappropriate emails. But it was quite unique because of the widespread involvement of managers who were not dismissed.
  • Myriad of OHS issues from practical matters, such as better risk assessments for hazardous manual handling in Business Hubs and equipment in POs for lifting and carrying parcels to more fundamental matters like trying to get Post to put in place a preventative strategy that focuses on work systems and stop punishing individual behaviour. So-called safe behaviour and safety leadership programs and all the other Post gimmicks will not make unsafe conditions safe.
  • Representation of complaints to Comcare – particularly with HSR elections.
  • OHS laws and workers’ compensation - we continued to fight against the Abbott government’s push for deregulation of work OHS laws and reduction of workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Negotiations to develop and trial new method to capture time for counter work in Post Offices.
  • SA member refused pay for sick leave on a day which followed a public holiday and warning counselled despite the availability of credits and excellent attendance history. National Office took matter to FWC and won. Member paid and warning counselling removed.
  • Remote localities fares assistance in Qld – pressure from local delegate and National Office sees Post reinstate reimbursement for private motor vehicle prior to travel and withdrawal of hardship provisions in order to get paid in advance of travel.
  • National fortnightly Postal News.

This year we will have more challenges. We look forward to them and your support. Each action, each accomplishment is another step closer to our goals to make our workplaces fairer, safer and more rewarding with decent pay and conditions. So keep going. Keep pushing. Do not get down, and never, ever, ever give up. Everyone here at our CWU National Office is with you, right by your side.

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