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Postal e-Bulletin 2013 - #9

  1. EBA news
  2. Back office and counter times in ROM should be read as indicative only
  3. Comcare to intervene in work group dispute at Australia Post
  4. Social media policy unreasonably encroaches on private life
  5. Release of Australia Post digital mailbox
  6. Decipha workers’ claims deserve respect
  7. Royal Mail profits jump as parcel sales rise
  8. After Bangladesh, labor unions can save lives

1.EBA news

There have been significant developments with the EBA talks but the CWU has not endorsed any agreement. Watch for another bulletin later today or on weekend - see or phone app.

2.Back office and counter times in ROM should be read as indicative only

The joint union/management Working Party set up as a result of the Future Staffing Models dispute in the Retail area is continuing to meet to review the Back Office and Counter surveys including the times allocated for various counter and back office functions with a view to having improved times and processes incorporated into the existing ROM program. As a result of the review of this aspect of the ROM process, Australia Post has drafted a new ‘ROM reference guide for Postal Managers’ which is still in draft stage as yet but makes it clear that the automatic back office times are suggested or indicative times only.  If your office is undergoing a ROM Review then when you are consulted about the outcome of a review make sure the automatic times in the system are replaced with the time it actually takes to perform retail functions in your Post Office and not AP’s wish list times.

3.Comcare to intervene in work group dispute at Australia Post

Comcare has advised the CWU of its appointment of an inspector under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to determine matters in relation to work groups at AP’s Mt Waverly Hub/Delivery Centre in Victoria as a result of a request from the union.

To better understand the views of workers at Mt Waverly Hub/Delivery Centre as to why 2 HSRs and deputy HSRs are required for their work group, Comcare has advised of its intention to contact every single worker at this workplace by mail and, if necessary, by telephone.

 At the same time the union has also been asked to provide its views on why it considers that 2 HSRs and deputy HSRs are required at Mt Waverly DC – basically our position is that the size of the work group, the difficulty in accessing a HSR, the excessive workload for one HSR given the size and complexity of the work group, and the dangerous nature of the work (big numbers of motorcycle posties at the workplace) justifies 2 HSRs and deputy HSRs.

Members are encouraged to provide their views to Comcare when requested.

4.Social media policy unreasonably encroaches on private life

The CWU has raised some significant concerns with Australia Post regarding its proposal to introduce a Social Media policy that effectively restricts employees’ rights to use social media without fear of discipline or termination of employment.  The proposed policy requirement that ‘you(employees) are not accidentally making comments, posting pictures or doing anything online that could damage AP’s brand, reputation or commercial interests’ is so broad that almost anything posted on social media sites might be construed as damaging AP’s brand.  As well the proposed policy applies ‘even when using a personal mobile device at work or using your own computer or mobile device elsewhere’, and therefore unreasonably encroaches on an employee’s private life.

On the other hand, while the proposed new social media policy aims to protect the rights of AP on the online world, there are no protections for AP employees who may be victims of adverse comments posted by irate customers on AP’s social media sites.

In short, the policy potentially infringes on workplace rights under the Fair Work Act - it should be sufficient to instruct employees not to say anything in their personal social media channels which may be interpreted as coming from or representing the views of AP.  

5. Release of Australia Post digital mailbox

AP has announced the public beta release of Post’s Digital MailBox. The digital mailbox will enable users to connect to the selected service providers, start receiving some mail digitally and begin storing important documents online.

In launching the digital mailbox, AP hopes to maximise on its role as a publicly trusted brand and broker of verified customer identity, such as passport applications as it moves into the digital sphere.

Clearly AP would like its digital mailbox to be the primary online launch-pad for government services however there are some problems, for instance, such an approach would give people little choice about how they manage their identity online.

Then comes the issue of the business model behind the digital mailbox with the real money supposed to be in the secure electronic presentation of bills and documents coupled with online payment facilities. However there are some problems here too as the bank operated BPAY is already the market leader and provides services to hundreds of government agencies ranging from council rates, tax etc.

Interestingly AP abandoned its online bill payments arm in 2007 after it failed to acquire any real momentum – makes the case for why pay increases should not be tied to profit which is affected by decisions that are outside of workers control.

6. Decipha workers’ claims deserve respect

The CWU has continued to meet with Decipha management throughout April and May on the EBA.  The majority of members’ claims have now been put by the union. Some of the important claims put by the union and management’s response are as follows:

CWU members claims

Decipha’s response

Part-time employees paid overtime for additional hours


Decipha position- no. 

Increase increments to 5 for classifications  eg Technical Operator currently only 4 increments

Decipha position – no.

Definition of week’s pay for Redundancy to include: overtime, penalty rates, allowances etc

Decipha position –no.

Salary maintenance if transferred to lower classification


Decipha position –no.

Increase Redundancy entitlements

Decipha position –no.

Work before 6.00am (not 4.00am) paid 15% loading whole shift. 

Decipha position –no.

Increase meal allowances to $15.

Decipha position –no.

Remove employees can be directed to take annual leave


Decipha position – no.

Statutory declaration will be accepted as evidence of illness.


Decipha position – no.

Decipha management has also put some further claims including a reduction in number of increment levels within the Team Member and Technical classifications from 4 to 3 increments by deleting the top increment levels, introduction of split shifts for part-time employees, minimum shift hours reduced from 4 to 3 hours and the option to transfer supervisors on to common law contracts!

Many of the claims put by the union do not involve significant expense, for example, the right to request a change in working arrangements to care for adult children with a disability or frail elderly parents – despite Decipha’s misinformation.

Notwithstanding the above, the CWU has managed to move Decipha on a number of members’ claims. For example tea breaks – 1 for part-time 2 for full-time and negotiation of timing of tea breaks is something Decipha will consider.

However Decipha’s off-handed rejection of your claims does not show the respect members deserve while Decipha’s own proposals are unfair and unacceptable.  Members are therefore encouraged to get involved, talk to your local Union delegate about how you can help to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard b the company.

7.  Royal Mail profits jump as parcel sales rise

Royal Mail profits jump as parcel sales riseRoyal Mail's annual profits have more than doubled, helped by strong growth in parcel deliveries as more people shop online. Operating profits for the 52 weeks to the end of March jumped to £403m, up from £152m for the previous year.

Its core UK parcels and letters unit reported an operating profit of £294m, compared with just £33m last year.

Revenues from UK parcel deliveries were up 13%, and parcels now account for 48% of revenue across the group.  On a like-for-like basis, the volume of parcels sent rose by 5% over the year.

The rise in parcel deliveries is in marked contrast to a sharp fall in UK letter deliveries, which fell by 8%. Despite the fall, revenues rose by 3% due to the increase in stamp prices.

The strong results come ahead of the expected privatisation of Royal Mail next year. The coalition government has said that it plans to privatise the UK's national postal service by March next year.

However, union action has presented a potential stumbling block. The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents postal workers, has vowed to fight the sale, which it says will lead to a "worse deal for customers, staff and thousands of small businesses dependent on the Royal Mail". Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said the positive results were "more compelling evidence of why Royal Mail should be kept in the public sector".

"Privatisation isn't necessary and it would destabilise the workforce and the good progress being made. The support of the workforce is crucial to the success of the company," said the CWU.

(Source: extracts from BBC News & The Guardian)

8. After Bangladesh, labor unions can save lives

The factory collapse in Bangladesh killed more than 1,100 workers should be a pivot point for the global clothing industry, moving consumers to demand more accountability from brand-name companies that subcontract production to supply-chain factories around the world. Sadly, the history of workplace tragedies in so many of these factories suggests that after consumers in rich countries express horror and call for reforms, the demands for better worker protections die down and the marketplace for cheap apparel abides. But this cycle can finally be broken if demands for change start to focus on workers’ right to form trade unions.

Government inspectors might come once in 10 years from understaffed and underfunded labor ministries common to most developing countries. But a real trade union can provide the vigilance and voice that workers need for sustained decency at their place of employment, including a workplace that is not a death trap.

In Bangladesh and many other countries, the challenge is getting real unions. Factory managers routinely fire and blacklist workers thought to be union sympathizers. And sometimes worse: In April 2012, clothing union organizer Aminul Islam was found tortured and killed after meeting with workers near a garment manufacturing center outside Dhaka. The crime remains unsolved.  In many countries, owners often shut down newly organized factories to warn workers away from unions.

Despite these challenges, clothing unions have a toehold in Central America and in other regions and countries, including Bangladesh. But a toehold is not enough to shift the balance of power.

To change the balance of power, consumer pressure, government policies, international labor solidarity, new management policies and other support mechanisms must focus on workers’ organizing and bargaining rights. Unions defending employees inside the workplace can save lives.

(Source: extract from story by Lance Compa The Washington Post, 26 May)

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