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‘Are you kidding me’: Australia Post’s bizarre request to staff

·4-min read
Pictured: Australia Post express post parcel. Image: Getty
Australia Post has asked workers to volunteer. Image: Getty

Australia Post staff have reportedly been asked to volunteer their time and vehicles to deliver parcels as Victoria’s lockdown triggers a record number of deliveries.

Australia Post on Tuesday recorded its busiest day ever, delivering 2.5 million parcels and letters. According to reports in The Sydney Morning Herald, Victorian workers have now been asked to volunteer to deliver parcels as it attempts to shift the huge backlog of deliveries. They will receive time in lieu and will be reimbursed for their vehicle costs.

The memo to staff said workers were needed to help with parcel pick-up services from Australia Post facilities in Brooklyn, Bayswater and Dandenong South.

"The work will involve minimal contact with others and you will be provided with personal protective equipment and training to ensure you are as safe and prepared to help your frontline teammates and our customers," the memo read.

The program is similar to the Christmas volunteer program which sees Australia Post call out to office workers for help amid the increase in packages.

“With Australia Post managing record parcel volumes – up 186 per cent in Victoria in the third week of August - at the same time as our workforce capacity is reduced due to Stage 4 restrictions, we’re doing all we can to help process and deliver the parcels that our customers want,” a spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

“So far we’ve had around 200 of our Melbourne office based team members express interest to lend a hand to their front line colleagues to deliver for customers during one of our busiest periods ever, particularly in Victoria.”

The requests come as Australia Post executives await potential bonuses, despite having earlier in the year said they would not take the payments.

Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate told staff in March that senior executives would take 20 per cent pay cuts and waive their right to bonuses in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Holgate was paid $2.5 million last year, making her Australia’s highest-paid civil servant, while there are $7 million of bonuses on the line for the executive team.

Australia Post moved to every second day metro mail delivery until 30 June next year as it moves to cut costs.

However, in an interview with the ABC on Monday Holgate flagged that bonuses may still be paid as they have delivered a “fantastic result”.

"It's pretty black and white … the [executive team] has led our business through one of the most challenging periods," she said.

"I'm very proud of them. Whether they get paid a bonus or not, the board can decide."

Australia Post recorded a 7 per cent increase in full-year revenue to $7 billion with a profit before tax of $53.6 million.

‘Are you kidding me?’ Australians hit back

Shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland responded with shock to the news.

“Australia Post executives are considering paying themselves millions in bonuses, while simultaneously calling for volunteer delivery drivers. Are you kidding me?” she said.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said it showed that the Australia Post should be publicly owned.

“Asking for unpaid labor while unemployment is at record highs. While your senior executives are about to get $7 million in bonuses. The post is an essential public service that should be run as such not as a money making entity for a few,” he said.

Others queried why the Australia Post wouldn’t take on more staff.

“Isn’t the answer to hire more staff? Or are they trying to keep the numbers looking good for privatisation?” one person said.

“Asking for free labour during a global pandemic while job agencies will soon go back to pressuring people to find work when there isn’t any, and when payments are about to go down. Australia Post is an example of somewhere that could easily hire people with that bonus money,” added another.

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