Media Background Information On Postie Dispute
MEDIA BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON POSTIE DISPUTE
Posties represented by the Postal Workers Federation (PWF) have begun taking industrial action in support of their claims for a fairer and less discriminatory collective employment agreement with their employer, NZ Post.
Posties began their action on Friday by delivering only mail that the public would want – and not delivering items like bills and circulars. Their action was a spontaneous response to a NZ Post circular that appeared to challenge the right of the Postal Workers Federation to represent its members and encourage them to leave their union. It contained the completely untrue claim that because the current collective agreement had expired they were now on individual agreements and would have to join another union to get a pay rise or negotiate individually with NZ Post.
NZ Post responded to the action by suspending some PWA members on Saturday and Monday. This led to complete shutdowns at the Whangarei, Kaitaia, Dargaville, New Lynn, and Grey Lynn delivery branches.
The NZ Post workers represented by the PWF (including about 850 posties) have voted by a 90% majority to reject NZ Post’s offer for a new collective agreement.
The workers are opposed to a provision in the company offer which sees workers employed by NZ Post after 5 July 2000 continuing to be paid 6% less than workers employed before this date, despite the workers all performing the same work.
Posties are also opposed to the company’s practice of only reimbursing posties for a one-way trip when they use their own car for NZ Post business: the company reimburses posties for the expense of driving their own car from the Delivery Branch out to the start of their delivery round, but refuses to reimburse them for the return trip. Nor has the payment level increased in recent years despite the leap in fuel and other costs estimated by the NZ Institute of Economic Research to be 50% since 2001. Posties do not feel that they should be subsidising the business expenses of NZ Post out of their own meagre wages.
While the productivity of NZ Post employees has soared over the last 10 years, their wages have fallen steadily behind the rate of inflation. The workers feel that the company’s offer of an 8% pay rise over two years (equivalent to 4% per annum) does not go far enough to compensate for the previous steady erosion of their income.
With the increased amounts of work expected of them, posties report becoming increasingly fatigued by the week-in-week-out grind of six-day mail deliveries. The posties want the company to ask the public of New Zealand whether they want to continue receiving mail deliveries on Saturdays. The Deed of Understanding between the Government and NZ Post provides that, if the public in any area vote to receive only five mail deliveries per week, then NZ Post can oblige them. NZ Post has refused to make any commitment to posties that they will ask the public for their views.
Posties want compulsory overtime limited to a maximum of three hours a week. They are asking for the company to stop the practice of refusing to allow new Posties to join the PWF Collective Employment Agreement by insisting that the CEA apply only to the members at the moment the agreement is ratified. And they want the extra week’s leave for long service retained when 4 weeks’ annual leave is brought in for all workers next year.
If the company continues to refuse to negotiate seriously on these concerns and continues to attack the rights of the PWF and its members the industrial action can be expected to continue.