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Postal e-Bulletin 2013 - #13

  1. Post begins attack on CEPU
  2. Celebrations at Post
  3. Hazardous manual handling work at Post Offices
  4. Comcare intervention at Mt Waverley DC
  5. Revised offer from Decipha
  6. CWU delivers 2.6% wage lift to LPO staff
  7. Complaints of workplace bullying in Post
  8. UK mail volume declines predicted to slow down
  9. Dog attacks on UK postal workers

1.Post begins attack on CEPU

The Victorian Postal and Telecommunications Branch of the CWU/CEPU was, this week, informed by Post that payroll deductions of union dues would cease for all Victorian members from 15 August.  No other Branches have had their payroll deductions of union dues cut off.  This is a disgraceful and discriminatory act of retribution because the Victorian Branch did not support the EBA.

Hard working Victorian members, some of whom actually voted for the Agreement, as was their right, will now be disadvantaged due to this graceless act. Ahmed Fahour actually threatened this action during the EBA talks to anyone who would not support his Agreement.

We live in a democracy. The Victorian Branch has accepted the decision of employees in ratifying the EBA. In the meantime Victorian members on payroll deductions are strongly encouraged to contact their Branch to discuss alternative arrangements regarding their union dues.

2. Celebrations at Post

There is no doubt that the celebrations were loud and long at Post HQ this week as the EBA was certified by the FWC. A 1.5% pay rise this year will make the top brass look very good - and boost their bonuses.  Ahmed Fahour has been celebrating his success boasting proudly in one newspaper how he beat the union "This is a historic outcome being the first non union endorsed EA ... in our history", he said.

The EBA was not supported by a large number of CEPU executive members because of the low pay increases, particularly in the first year and other unresolved claims.  Nevertheless, we sought coverage of the EBA so that we could maximize your protection by the Union.

3. Hazardous manual handling work at Post Offices

The return of parcels unable to be delivered by contractors back to Post Offices (known as carded parcels) is not new work.  Most recently, however, CWU members at a suburban Post Office in Victoria were a little surprised when a car gear box turned up as a carded parcel!

In the past there have been instances of washing machines and cement mixers turning up at Post Offices or LPOs but, the delivery of a car gear box to a Post Office is possibly a first.

Given there is minimal handling equipment other than light capacity sack trolleys and perhaps small plastic pallets in some places the fact is that heavier items are being lifted and moved without mechanical assistance.

Hazardous manual handling work at Post OfficesWhen considering what is ‘heavy’ the American NIOSH lifting equation has a recommended maximum weight of 23kgs which is only allowed in very restricted, i.e. minimal lifting circumstances.   Australia Post contractors are carrying parcels up to 32kgs which may be carded back to Post Office. 

A 32kg lift is very hazardous and Post’s reliance on team lifting is not an acceptable work method and should only be used as an interim control measure. The matter was raised by the union at the recent Australia Post National OHS committee meeting.


4. Comcare intervention at Mt Waverley DC

Comcare is undertaking the process of determining the number and composition of the ‘Work Groups’ for workers at Mt Waverley DC.  This process has arisen due to Australia Post’s refusal to accept the views of workers that the Work Group is sufficiently large and the work dangerous to warrant two Health and Safety Representatives for the ‘Work Group’. 

As part of the process Comcare has written to all workers at Mt Waverley DC seeking their views in relation to what number and composition work groups Mt Waverley DC should have and the number of HSRs and deputy HSRs. 

Under  Work Health and Safety Act Regulations Comcare is required to take into consideration the views of workers in relation to the determination of the ‘Work Groups’ and number of HSRs. 

Workers at Mt Waverley can provide information to the Comcare by completing and returning the Comcare form sent to them and /or contacting the relevant Comcare Inspector via email or telephone.  Members are urged to have their say.

5. Revised offer from Decipha

After an overwhelmingly negative response from members Decipha has revised its pay offer to the union.   Their current offer is for pay rises of: 1.5% in the first year; and 2.5% in the second year.

This offer is nowhere near the 5.4% per annum for the next two years that the union and its members have put on the table for discussion.

As members would be aware:

  • the current offer is well behind in terms of average pay increases over the last 2 years;
  • the 1.5% in the first year is well below the current rate of inflation;  and
  • the 2.5% in the second year is also below the cost of living rises expected next year.

The current offer is also particularly unfair in the context of Decipha’s refusal to improve redundancy pay and refusal to apply the current 15% shift penalty across the whole shift, not just between 4am and 6am.

Decipha can do better on these claims and on pay. Members have a right to expect to not only keep up with the cost of living increases, but to improve their standard of living.

Please continue to let us know your thoughts on the offer. You can give us your feedback at

6. CWU delivers 2.6% wage lift to LPO staff

cwu members working in licensed post offices have been awarded a pay rise of 2.6% by FWA.   This equates to an increase of $15.80 a week to the minimum wage bringing it up to $622.20 a week or $16.37 per hour from 1 July 2013.

The ACTU and CWU had been seeking a pay rise of $30 per week.   Although the rise was disappointing, it was far better than the $5.80 per week advocated by the Australian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.  With inflation currently at 2.4% the pay increase will allow low paid workers to keep their heads above water, but only just.

The CWU, in conjunction with the ACTU, will continue to advocate on behalf of those working in licensed post offices for pay rises that deliver real increases in living standards.

This is just another reason LPO staff should join together – and join the CWU!

7. Complaints of workplace bullying in Post

Recently we have had complaints of bullying in Australia Post workplaces of workers by managers. Hence it is worth reminding all members of what bullying is and what you can do if you or a colleague is being bullied.

Workplace bullying is more than simply an interpersonal conflict—it can be a systemic problem that arises in the context of a poor workplace culture. It has significant effects on those directly experiencing or witnessing the bullying, as well as their families, and on the workplace.

Employers have a clear legal obligation under work health and safety legislation to eliminate risks associated with workplace bullying as far as is reasonably practicable.

Performance management is not bullying when feedback is provided properly, with the intention of assisting the employee to improve their performance. However intimidation,manipulative, offensive, degrading, humiliation, negative criticism, exclusion or isolation from co-workers, deliberately withholding information, removing responsibility, delegating menial tasks , unreasonable demands and sexual abuse are forms of bullying.

Everyone has the right to be happy and safe in their workplace and any type of abuse is not accepted in our society this being violence, bullying, harassment or victimisation.

When an incident of bullying does occur you should report the incident to your supervisor or manager (if appropriate), seek advice from outside the workplace, speak to the persona bout you are feeling and request they stop, keep a journal of bullying incidents. And importantly, you can contact your union for assistance.

8. UK mail volume declines predicted to slow down

UK mail volumes declines are predicted to slow down over the next decade claims a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

In a report commissioned by Royal Mail, PwC stated that e-substitution will slow down as the “quick wins” are tapped up in terms of customers switching to Internet communications, leaving more “paper loyal” customers in the mail market.

Annual letter volume declines will be around 5% from 2013 to 2018, slowing to 4% from 2018 to 2023, the PwC report suggested.

The PwC forecast also suggested that parcel volume growth may slow over the next decade from 3% per annum to 2% per annum from 2018 to 2023 as certain e-commerce products move to digital alternatives, particularly books, while growth in online shopping as a whole gradually slows down.

Overall mail volumes – letters and parcels – will see a 4% annual decline from 2013 to 2018 slow to a 3% annual decline from 2018 to 2023, with parcels doubling their share of the mail bag to about 21% of the total volume.

While the substitution of paper communication by electronic methods – e-substitution – was the “principal cause” of overall mail volume decline recessional factors have also taken an impact. From 2008 to 2013, the UK’s domestic letter volumes declined by 6.3% each year spurred on by the recession. The five years previously saw volumes declining by just 3.1% per year on average. 

As members know mail volume is in decline across the world. Australia Post’s mail volume has been declining at about 4 to 5 per cent per year since 2008. But it’s not all bad news for Australia Post with 70 per cent of parcel transactions being generated online and this business is “booming”.  Its domestic business generates about $1 billion in revenue and it’s growing at 10 per cent per year. Even though the Australian e-commerce market was slow to grow initially, most forecasts have it growing at double digit rates until 2020.

9. Dog attacks on UK postal workers

Although usually at loggerheads over privatisation and a new labour deal this time Royal Mail and the sector’s largest union the Communication Workers Union have teamed up to raise awareness of dog attacks on postal workers.

The Dog Awareness Week campaign aims to encourage dog owners to help keep their pets under control with the postman or woman calls.

Royal Mail said yesterday there had been more than 5,500 dog attacks on its staff since April 2011, with attacks causing the loss of 4,100 working days due to injury.

The number of attacks has fallen by 24%, but remains “unacceptably high” according to Royal Mail. More than 2,400 postmen and women were attacked from April 2012 to April 2013.

The CWU said it has been campaigning about this issue since 2007, and last year teamed up with Royal Mail for an awareness exercise.

The union said this year is set to be bigger and better – hopefully getting the message out to all dog owners that they need to take steps to ensure their pets do not pose a threat to postal workers. The law is being changed in England and Wales to allow prosecution of owners for dog attacks on private property. The law has already changed in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

There is a lot dog owners could do to prevent attacks – keeping animals out of reach of postal workers and front doors, and remembering in school holidays that children may let dogs out said the union.

Many other countries, including Australia have problems with dog attacks on posties. Such attacks include being bitten and chased by Rottweilers, Dobermans and Alsatians - but terriers, poodles, kelpies and border collies reportedly have a pretty bad attitude too.

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