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Postal Workers Union calling for a stop to axing post boxes

Postal Workers Union calling for a stop to NZ Post tomorrow axing more roadside post boxes

- and an investigation into an apparent conflict of interest

The Postal Workers Union is calling for an immediate halt to the removal by New Zealand Post of many of its roadside post boxes and an investigation into what appears to be a conflict of interest involving a finance minister in a previous National Party Government.

Tomorrow NZ Post intends to remove 31 post boxes in Lower Hutt and others in Masterton, Palmerston North and New Plymouth in the next few weeks. Last week Radio New Zealand reported that NZ Post has already removed 1300 post boxes since 2008.

The union also wants an investigation by an appropriate body into an apparent conflict of interest in postal services. Ex National Party finance minister Bill Birch, who while in Parliament supported the passing of the Postal Services Act 1998 and the deregulation of the standard letter, later joined the board of private sector mail company DX Mail which is “aggressively competing” with NZ Post for the collection, processing and delivery of letters. Bill Birch has also spent more than 10 years on the board of DX Mail’s parent company Freightways.

Persistent pressure from the Government on NZ Post to cut its costs is reducing the ability of NZ Post to meet its statutory obligation to have “regard to the interests of the community in which it operates”.

While the Postal Workers Union recognises the decline in mail volumes over recent years, posties and local community newspapers are getting complaints from residents and small businesses that for them it is becoming more difficult to post letters as NZ Post reduces its postal services. NZ Post has also been closing or privatising its Post Shops through a series of franchise arrangements.

NZ Post will be retaining a six day delivery service. Although in the cities and urban areas NZ Post will soon be delivering standard mail on only three days a week to individual addresses, on the days in between the company will still be delivering fastpost, international mail and parcels to businesses and households.

NZ Post has not given a specific assurance that post boxes will not be removed from near retirement villages – the very people who have supported the state owned postal service all their lives, and who want to be able to continue to do so. NZ Post should be consulting more with local communities and residents' and business associations before taking the axe to their community services.

While NZ Post is steadily reducing its postal services private mail company DX Mail continues to extend it's own delivery network throughout the county including installing more of its own roadside post boxes.

The continued removal of significant numbers of roadside post boxes by NZ Post will further undermine the public confidence of residents and small businesses in the state owned postal service and further serve the interests of NZ Post’s private sector competitors.

The Postal Workers Union has also been vigorously challenging NZ Post to rectify some of its unacceptable mail delivery service failures.

The Union believes that there exists a process of privatisation by stealth which has been made possible by the pro privatisation National Government’s Postal Services Act 1998 – legislation which was passed at a time that DX Mail board member Bill Birch was a cabinet minister in the Jim Bolger Government.

ENDS

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