Union blindsided by latest NZ Post job cuts, expects more to come

Joe Gallagher said he got no formal notification from NZ Post.

The union representing some of the 500 NZ Post Group workers losing their jobs in the latest round of retrenchments says it got no notice of the cuts but expects there will be more to come as the state-owned postal service scales back on traditional mail.

Joe Gallagher, the industry organiser for postal workers at E tu, said he got no formal notification from NZ Post that the job cuts would be announced today. E tu was created last October through the merger of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and the Service & Food Workers Union.

"I was aware but only through individuals talking to me," Mr Gallagher said. "I had to ring some pretty high-level people in NZ Post this morning and say 'what the hell?' They seem to forget a lot of people retain union membership. It doesn't surprise me but it has been a bit of a shock today."

In a statement, NZ Post said it would cut about 500 jobs, mainly managers and specialists at head office and in support roles in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

"This forms part of the 1500-2000 roles indicated in late 2013 when the five-year plan was announced," an NZ Post spokesman said in an emailed statement. "The process is part of our change as we redefine ourselves for the future in response to an annual $20-30 million fall in revenue as people send 60 million fewer letters every year. We expect this process to be completed by this July."

NZ Post wouldn't comment further while it talks to its staff.

Last August, chief executive Brian Roche said 1300 jobs had gone since 2013. In September, it cut a further 69 call centre staff, which, combined with today's announcement, brings the total jobs lost near to 1900.

"This is a fairly aggressive timeframe they're working to, with most of these jobs gone by the end of July, so take what you will from that in terms of consultation," Mr Gallagher said.

NZ Post is modernising its operations while cutting costs, buying Paxster electric delivery vehicles to replace bikes and moving away from manual sorting, which Gallagher said will mean further job losses.

"We could see another 25% reduction – I think we will – in terms of their processing centres in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland," he said. "I don't know what that will mean for posties but we haven't seen the end of it."

The state-owned mail service posted a $110 million profit for the six months ended December 31, 2015, from $100 million a year earlier. Stripping out the gain from asset sales, earnings fell 14%  to $74 million on an 8.8%  drop in revenue to $766 million.

NZ Post's banking subsidiary, Kiwibank, accounted for the bulk of the SOE's earnings, increasing profit 1.4% to $73 million, as total lending grew 4.8% to $16.4 billion.

At the time, Mr Roche said the mail business would focus on strategic investment, automation and improving customer services while pursuing further cost savings.

(BusinessDesk)

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