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Protest at removal of roadside postbox

Protest at one of New Zealand Post's road side post boxes in New Plymouth on Friday

The Postal Workers Union, other unions and local residents, are supporting a New Plymouth small business owner in his opposition to the removal of one of New Zealand Post's road side posting boxes near his suburban shop. They will gather for a lunch time protest at midday Friday 12 June at the post box on the corner of St Aubyn Street and Kingswell Street in suburban Motorua.

While the Postal Workers Union recognises the decline in mail volumes over recent years, posties 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. The Union has been vigorously challenging NZ Post to address its delivery service failures.

NZ Post has also been closing or privatising its Post Shops through a series of franchise arrangements.

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”.

The Postal Workers Union believes that New Zealand Post's mail service is being privatized by stealth - New Plymouth may be the first town or city where the private sector mail company DX Mail now has more road side posting boxes than has NZ Post.

However the union wants an investigation by an appropriate body into an apparent conflict of interest in postal services. Before leaving Parliament in 1999, National Party finance minister Bill Birch supported the passing of the Postal Services Act 1998 and the deregulation of the standard letter. After leaving Parliament Bill Birch 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.

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Last week NZ Post removed 31 post boxes in Lower Hutt and others in Masterton, Palmerston North and New Plymouth in the next few weeks. There is also concern in the Waikato about the number of post boxes being taken out. Radio New Zealand reported that NZ Post has already removed 1300 post boxes nationwide since 2008.

At the same time that an expensive TV ad currently running at prime time has a well known British actor casually passing a letter to his barber for posting, it is somewhat ironical that one of the post boxes removed last week against the wishes of some local business owners was outside a barber shop in Wainuiomata.

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