NZ Post’s deliveries of standard letters are to be cut from six days a week to only three days a week, but not till mid-2015. The news is buried in a verbose government press release, which quotes figures to show a decline in mail volumes of 8 per cent a year. And the EPMU predicts massive cuts to services.
News from NZ Government
Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams has today announced that the Government has reached agreement with New Zealand Post on changes to the Deed of Understanding, to ensure the postal service remains viable.
Under the agreement reached between the Government and New Zealand Post, changes to the Deed will not apply until 30 June, 2015.
“Around the world postal volumes are declining. In New Zealand this is at a rate of about 8 per cent per annum,” Ms Adams says. “It is clear that if changes are not made to the Deed, then significant and on-going government subsidisation in excess of $30 million per year may be required.
“The decision to update the Deed reflects the need to balance the immediate interests of postal users with the longer term need for greater flexibility for New Zealand Post, given the dramatic reduction in the volume of postal items over the past 11 years.
“From their peak in 2002 mail volumes have dropped considerably, with about 328 million fewer items being posted in 2013 compared to 2002.”
New Zealand Post had sought the flexibility to reduce the frequency of mail delivery for standard delivery letters to a minimum of three days per week nationwide.
However, the Government was concerned about the sustainability of rural delivery services and rural contractors in general through fewer deliver days.
“Through negotiations, I have secured agreement from New Zealand Post that it will limit any introduction of a minimum three-day delivery to only urban areas, maintaining five-day delivery in rural delivery areas.
“It is important to note that three-day delivery is the minimum standard New Zealand Post must meet. This means that New Zealand Post may continue to provide a higher frequency of delivery in some non-rural areas.
“The minimum standards in the Deed only apply to basic or standard postal services. The Deed does not apply to other types of postal products or services such as express mail, courier post, parcel post or premium services such as Fast Post.”
Changes to the Deed will also require New Zealand Post to continue to maintain a retail network of at least 880 points of presence, but permit this to be comprised of self-service kiosks, well as physical postal outlets.
Of the 880 points of presence, New Zealand Post has agreed to maintain at least 240 outlets where customers can receive personal assistance from an employee or agent of New Zealand Post.
“This will give comfort to members of the public who may feel anxious at the prospect of the introduction of self-service kiosks.”
The 880 and 240 figures are unchanged from the current Deed, but the specifics in each case have been modified to meet current requirements.
The timeframe for implementing any changes will be a commercial decision for New Zealand Post, after 30 June, 2015.
Minimum service requirements for New Zealand Post are set out in the Deed of Understanding it signed with the Crown in 1998. The Deed has not been significantly reviewed since it was signed.
News from EPMU
The announcement today that the Government is giving New Zealand Post the “flexibility” to slash services to urban and rural Kiwis is shocking, says the union for postal workers, the EPMU.
“These changes herald massive cuts to postal services,” says Joe Gallagher, the EPMU’s postal industry organiser. “We are incredibly disappointed with this decision, and how it has been made.”
Changes have been confirmed to NZ Post’s Deed of Understanding which gives the company the power to cut urban deliveries to three days a week from 2015, to cut rural deliveries to five days a week, and “flexibility in how and where we provide our services” – which will allows them to replace postal workers with self-service kiosks around the country.
“New Zealand Post is a vital public service which returned a profit of $121 million in 2013. It should be focused on delivering for Kiwis, not cutting essential services to turn bigger profits.
“We have not had any answer to our questions about the figures this decision is based on, and we have to ask why the Government has decided to let urban services be cut in half while the rural sector is kept to five days a week.”
The EPMU has been surprised by today’s announcement. It was sent a letter from Minister Amy Adams’ office yesterday which claimed there was no timeframe for making a decision or announcement on the NZ Post Deed of Understanding.
“It’s not good enough for the Minister of Communications to claim ‘negotiations are still ongoing with New Zealand Post’ and the next day announce she is giving them everything they’ve asked for,” says Joe Gallagher. “It’s not good enough for the Government to give New Zealand Post a blank cheque to accelerate their job cuts.”
The EPMU’s submission to MBIE over changes to the Deed of Understanding is available at: http://www.epmu.org.nz/assets/Post/EPMU-Submission-NZ-Post-2013.pdf
A selection of quotes from the more than 250 public submissions received by the EPMU is available at: http://www.epmu.org.nz/assets/Post/Public-submissions.pdf