Australia Post confession: Why your mail didn't show up

ARE you fed up with Australia Post's delivery service?

Missed delivery slips, wayward packages and wrong addresses are an ongoing source of frustration for package recipients, with the national carrier's Facebook page littered with complaints.

But according to one driver, there's a reason for the mishaps, and it's not laziness.

Gavin*, who recently took a job as a delivery driver for an Australia Post subcontractor in regional NSW, said he and his co-workers were under incredible pressure to meet what he felt were "impossible" delivery quotas.

"I was told by the boss that if I don't get my quota up, that I'm going to get the sack," the driver told news.com.au.

"He said I need to be delivering 170 parcels a day. If you actually work it out, that allows you two minutes per delivery, and that's just impossible.

"By the time you go to the door, knock on the door, the person isn't home, you've got to then write a card out and put it under their door and then take the parcel back to the post office so they can collect it that afternoon.

"That happens every time someone's not home, it is a lot because there's not very many people home during the morning."

An Australia Post subcontractor says drivers have to meet “impossible” quotas.
An Australia Post subcontractor says drivers have to meet “impossible” quotas.

Gavin said his calculations were based on a seven-and-a-half-hour work day, but that he rarely finished in this time as the only way he could get anywhere near the target number of parcels delivered was to put in unpaid overtime.

This did not include time spent at the depot sorting parcels and packing them into his van, he said.

He said the quota was increased to 200 during the busy Christmas period, an even more onerous demand that he feared would jeopardise drivers.

"You just can't do it and it's got me buggered how these guys do it without breaking speed limits, and I've told the bloke who I work for that I will not break the speed limit," Gavin said.

"The stress and the pressure that you're under while driving as well, is a major factor in it all."

He said he was not willing to risk his license to meet quotas or risk the safety of other road users - but that taking the high road meant having to put in long days. In a 12-hour shift, he said, he would end up being paid little more than $12 an hour.


UNION BLAMES TENDER PROCESS

Cut-price contracts negotiated by Australia Post through its tender process contribute to delivery mishaps, according to the union representing company-employed drivers.

"I don't think they're doing it on purpose, it's just that it's physically impossible to get that work done in the space of time because of the sheer volume," CEPU assistant secretary Peter Chaloner told news.com.au.

"The root cause of the problem is that subcontractors are employed by a primary contractor who deals with Australia Post for a price.

"Obviously that price is competitive and other people are tendering ... At the end of the day, the principal contractor needs to take his cut."

 

AAP

And this did not leave enough to pay "subbies" a reasonable fee or put on extra staff, Mr Chaloner claimed.
He said most subcontractors were paid for every parcel they touched, often as little as $1 or $1.10 per package, rather than an hourly rate.

"A lot of the subbies are working themselves to the bone," Mr Chaloner said.

"They can't go on holidays because they've got to pay someone else to do their work while they're gone. I know subbies who haven't had a holiday in five years."

Principal contractors sign up for contracts for between three and five years are most are not members of the union as they are small business owners.

The union wants them to band together and negotiate a better deal, Mr Chaloner said.

"We believe if the principal contractor was getting proper recompense, they could afford to put on more subcontractors to break the back of this workload," he said.


DRIVERS URGED TO REPORT INDUSTRY ROGUES

A spokesman for the national carrier said Australia Post did not impose any delivery quotas on its drivers, and subjected its 3500 contractors to spot audits and compliance reviews.

"Australia Post has a proud history of using delivery contractors across our vast country for more than 200 years, working with more than 3,500 principal contractors on a daily basis," the spokesman said.

"The alleged behaviour of a single operator should not reflect the vast majority of our contractors who are hand-working small business owners.

"We strongly encourage this subcontractor to contact our independent whistleblower hotline so we can thoroughly investigate and act accordingly."

He said Australia Post's agreements with delivery contractors required them to follow the law and provide appropriate working terms and conditions for subcontractors.

"If a contractor is not meeting the high standards expected of them by Australia Post, our customers and the community, we will act swiftly, including terminating contracts."

The number for Australia Post's whistleblower hotline is 1800 799 353.


COMPLAINTS KEEP COMING

While Gavin claims to perform his deliveries by the book, Australia Post's Facebook Page is littered with complaints about parcel collection slips placed in letterboxes when the parcel recipients were waiting patiently at home for their delivery.

"I honestly don't think you guys even try to deliver things any more. I have been home all day, inside the house all day," Lisa Cox wrote on Monday.

"The doorbell has not rung all day - I would have heard it! Yet, a slip under my door and the parcel has to be picked up from the post office."

An even more frustrating experience was recounted by Tim Fletcher, who said he not only found a missed delivery slip despite being home all morning - but that when we went to pick up the parcel from the post office that afternoon, it wasn't there.

"I was told I hadn't come back yet. Was still with the postie," Mr Fletcher said.

It comes almost two years after news.com.au highlighted the issue of couriers making no attempt to actually deliver packages, with CCTV footage of a driver slipping a piece of paper into a woman's letterbox without even knocking or ringing the doorbell.

Last year Australia Post began charging fees of up to $9 to collect parcels from the post office between five and 30 days after delivery was "attempted".

* Not his real name.

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