Australia Post staff have allegedly been asked to volunteer their time and vehicles to deliver parcels – as top executives await millions in potential bonuses.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Victorian employees with a driver’s licence and car have been emailed to request volunteers to help clear a huge backlog of parcels.
The spike in parcels is apparently the result of Victoria’s stage 4 restrictions, which sparked a surge in online shopping.
However, the unusual request comes as Australia Post bigwigs await possible bonuses – despite the fact CEO Christine Holgate vowed in March to forego bonuses as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The Federal Government also announced a six-month wage freeze for public service employees at around the same time.
At the time, The Australian reported Ms Holgate told staff the executive team and board had agreed to take a 20 per cent cut in their salaries for “the months ahead” and to “forsake any right to a bonus payment for this year”, representing a combined reduction in potential earnings of more than 50 per cent.
But now it seems that promise could be broken, with executives potentially standing to gain a total of $7 million in bonus payments, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The possible backflip comes after Australia Post announced a “new record” revenue of $7.5 billion – a 7 per cent jump – and a profit before tax of $53.6 million in late August, boosted by the growth of e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The claims are already causing a stir on social media, with one Twitter user likening Australia Post’s request to “modern-day slavery” while another said it showed “poor judgment” and “poor management”.
An Australia Post spokesperson told news.com.au the organisation was doing “all we can” to handle record parcel volumes, which were up 186 per cent in Victoria in the third week of August.
At the same time, Australia Post’s workforce capacity has been reduced due to Stage 4 restrictions.
“That’s why – like we do in the lead up to Christmas each year – we have put the call out to our Melbourne office team members to help us with our record volumes if they can,” the spokesperson said.
“Our people who help out on the weekend will receive time in lieu. We will also reimburse our people for the use of their cars as per our usual mileage and expenses claim process.
“So far we’ve had around 200 of our Melbourne office based team members express interest to lend a hand to their front line colleagues to deliver for customers during one of our busiest periods ever, particularly in Victoria.”
The organisation has been hit with a string of complaints this year, with Australia Post taking to its Facebook page in May in response to hundreds of accusations of delivery delays during the coronavirus pandemic.
The organisation’s Facebook page was also littered with complaints that posties were failing to wait a reasonable amount of time after knocking or buzzing with a delivery, even as thousands of Aussies were working from home during coronavirus lockdown.
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Ms Holgate was revealed as the country’s highest paid civil servant last year, earning more than $2.5 million in 2018/19, equating to $208,000 every month.
That eye-watering figure is still a far cry from Ms Holgate’s predecessor Ahmed Fahour, whose $6.8 million salary sparked widespread condemnation and led to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull admitting “that remuneration is too high”.