Defend Australia’s public postal services!
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by Alice M.
A broad alliance of unions, postal workers, small business and communities has come together to fight Australia Post’s CEO and government plans to gut the public mail delivery services and thousands of jobs along with it.
The Coalition of Mail Service Stakeholders is growing, and so far represents Communication Workers’ Union, Printing Division of AMWU, Communityand Public Services Union; Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) which represents printers and mail houses; and licensed Post Offices (franchisees).
The coalition states, “We have come together to ensure that the future of postal services in this country continue to be delivered in an equitable and sustainable manner.”
There is strong support from parliamentary independents Bob Katter, Nick Xenophon, John Maddigan, and some members of the National Party.
Australia Post is embarking on a far reaching restructure that clearly serves the interests of the big business parcels and transport monopolies. The public funds and people’s taxes used to provide a cheap, efficient and accessible mail service by the government-owned Australia Post for 205 years will be syphoned into big business private profit making.
Foreign and local big corporations are greedily eyeing the growing and highly profitable Australia Post parcels processing centres, national infrastructure and transportation networks. They demand government abolish the legislated Community Service Obligation that requires Australia Post to provide a 5-day reliable, low cost uniform letter delivery service to all parts of Australia.
Australia Post CEO, Ahmed Fahour, who sits on $4.8 million a year salary, is pushing hard to reduce the letter delivery services to 3 days per week and raise the cost of stamps. A two class letter delivery system will be set up, with an increased cost to continue 5 day a week letter deliveries and an inferior 3 day delivery. Rural communities, people on low incomes, benefits, pensions and welfare will be disadvantaged.
Thousands of jobs will be axed from Australia Post over next few years. In the first phase, between September 2014 and March 2015 more than 1,000 jobs will go. Hundreds of these jobs will be contracted out or sent off shore.
Combined, all these measures are priming Australia Post for privatisation.
The Business Council of Australia, through its Commission of Audit, spelled out the big foreign and local corporations’ agenda to privatise Australia Post and open it up to free market profiteering.
It’s no coincidence that Ahmed Fahour’s public announcement of Australia Post’s plans was made at this year’s May gathering of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. Fahour was sending a message to his masters, US corporations, that restructure and deregulation of Australia’s postal services is under way for future privatisation.
The unions and the small business and community alliance are gathering wide support. Postal workers are organising in their communities; the Country Women’s Association of Australia, country service clubs and members and supporters of the National Party are angry and organising local community protest meetings and rallies. Welfare, community and pensioners groups are sending strong messages to parliamentarians and mobilising their communities.
The CWU Postal Division has warned the government, “The prospect of a well-organised, grass roots fightback that bridges traditional political divisions is a nightmare in the making for the government.”
The unity and broadness of this fightback is not often seen. It gives a glimpse of the enormous potential and capacity for a people’s movement to toss out the parasites and shape Australia into an independent and socialist country run by the working people.
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