Capital faces brunt of postal cuts, says union

VERNON SMALL AND HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2014

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The loss of more than 100 jobs at New Zealand Post in Wellington is just a "pre-cursor", a union official warns.

The state-owned enterprise yesterday made the first major job cuts since it warned in November that up to 2000 positions would be axed in the next few years as it reshaped the business to cope with lower mail volumes.

The closure of its call centre at Te Puni, in Petone, will see 44 jobs cut, while up to 70 "mainly in Wellington" will go in the finance team.

Consolidation of call centres will see 30 new positions created by expanding call centres in Auckland and Christchurch. A spokeswoman for NZ Post said affected staff in Wellington would be offered relocation.

But Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) spokesman Joe Gallagher said the option was "unrealistic for ordinary working people" and that news of the job cuts had left affected staff in Petone "devastated".

"They're destroyed. They're in tears," Mr Gallagher said.

Last year NZ Post revealed that 120 mail processing jobs would go at Te Puni as it cut its mail processing centres from six to three.

Mr Gallagher said it appeared the capital was facing the brunt of job cuts and there was little strategy to create jobs outside of Auckland and Christchurch.

NZ Post's statement last year made it clear that there would be a wave of job-cut announcements, and Mr Gallagher predicted there would soon be changes to retail outlets, with private contractors replacing company employees.

"This is a pre-cursor. We're working with [NZ] Post, so one issue at a time, but they've sent a clear signal that we're soon going to be talking to them about retail.

"Basically, they're contracting out a lot of their shops, and a lot of people are going to lose jobs out of the retail network."

A spokeswoman for NZ Post said the announcement reflected the "harsh reality" faced by the company as it struggled with rapidly falling mail volumes.

The cuts were aimed at reducing duplication "and share support services across the business".

The spokeswoman said cost-cutting would affect all parts of the country. "These jobs are in Wellington, but that's not going to be the case all the way through. This is just the start of the process."

The spokeswoman declined to comment on impending changes to the retail business.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for NZ Post confirmed chief executive Brian Roche would take two delegates from the EPMU and two from the Postal Workers' Union to the Netherlands and Germany next week to look at developments in postal services there.

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- The Dominion Post

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