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Government accused of sabotaging a second SOE

Government accused of sabotaging a second state owned enterprise after Solid Energy collapse

The Government is being accused of sabotaging another state owned enterprise following the collapse of Solid Energy.

The Postal Workers Union says posties employed by New Zealand Post are required by the Government to undermine the letter business of the state owned enterprise by carrying the mail of private sector competitors.

While the Postal Workers Union is well aware of the changing patterns of communications the management of NZ Post appears to be less about the economics of mail decline and more about the ideology of privatisation.

In 1997 the Business Round Table had called for the deregulation and privatisation of NZ Post. Before the 1999 general election finance minister Bill English had said NZ Post would be on the block for privatisation.

The Postal Services Act 1998 set NZ Post up for a process of privatisation by stealth by being required to subsidise private sector mail companies as the private companies build up their letter business on the back of a state owned enterprise.

Of particular concern to the Union is that NZ Post's CEO has not responded to the Union's urging of him to reassure apprehensive employees that NZ Post is not deliberately running it's letter business into the ground.

The Postal Workers Union will be seeking a meeting with NZ Post chairperson Sir Michael Cullen to discuss what the Union considers to be a breach of Section 4 of the State Owned Enterprise Act - the requirement of NZ Post "having regard for the interests of the community in which it operates and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage these when able to do so".

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The strong public reaction against the widespread removal of roadside post boxes has been reflected in provincial and community newspapers throughout the country. While NZ Post has claimed "the cost of sending a van out" to clear post boxes as a reason for their removal, the company has never responded to the Union's proposal that the post boxes could be cleared by posties as they pass them on their deliveries.

The Postal Workers Union will be telling Sir Michael that following strong negative public reaction to the company's franchising of Post Shops and removal of post boxes NZ Post, as a state owned enterprise, should first call a public meeting in every community in which it is considering reducing or removing its services.

This weekend's protests against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement should also make NZ Post sit up and take notice. While NZ Post prefers to concentrate on its parcel business, leaks about the SOE chapter of the TPPA suggest the Government could see itself sued by other governments on behalf of their international parcel corporations, such as the US for FedEx, claiming the state owned enterprise is given a competitive edge over them in the parcel market. It is unclear what protections, if any, there will be for the universal service obligation for mail delivery.

The Postal Workers Union is concerned that NZ Post may be overconfident in assuming that trade minister Tim Groser has not already made concessions on provisions of the SOE chapter of the TPPA which could have a significantly adverse impact on SOEs like NZ Post.


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