Australia Post Stops Vaccine Mandates

Having an experimental medical procedure as a mandate, in order to keep your job, is one of the most diabolically evil things I have had to witness in my lifetime. 

Kudos though to the Australia Post employees that held the line bravely, while at risk of losing their jobs, only to be told at the last minute that the vaccine mandates do not apply to their industry. The reason: because they are Federal employees, they are not subject to State mandates.

Unfortunately though, the news of this technicality did not come early enough for some, who, in the confusion and the pressure they felt to keep their jobs, had already gone & received their first shot, in order to “meet the mandate deadline”. 

It was not because Australia Post was benevolent that the vaccine mandates were stopped. Nor did the Union (CEPU/CWU) representing Australia Post workers come to the aid of the employees either.  Pretty much as most other Unions did, they were walking a tightrope between management and staff and generally accepting the mainstream medical mafia advice that was on offer. The position of the union (CWU Union National, 2021) was that it was against mandatory vaccination, though the advice to members was to urge them to get vaccinated for their own safety and to protect their families and the general public.

Australia Post had become an institution that was undergoing restructuring, due to the changing trends in communication, with a marked drop in posting of letters, accompanied by an increase in parcels. All this against a backdrop of neoliberalism (An Australia Post worker, 2021) stemming from the executive and culminating into two tiers of postie, the traditional postie and the contractor.

With the onset of the pandemic and disruptions to flights as well as workplace restrictions, the efficiency of getting the mail delivered on time had been dealt a blow.  When the Morrison Government had granted temporary regulatory relief to postal deliveries, this was welcomed by Australia Post. A month after that decision, the opposition attempted to overturn this. In a move that smacks of conspiracy to carry favour of One Nation votes (Harris, 2020) on the issue, a decision had been made to deliver stubby holders with Pauline Hansons’ photo on it with the slogan “I have the guts to say what you are thinking”, to a locked-down public housing tower in Melbourne. This episode shows the insensitivity of the political and business class and their willingness to play political football with locked-down citizens.

With a 200% increase in parcel volume, coupled with cuts to services and disruptions to the efficiency of delivering mail and parcels, the health and safety of Australia post staff (Isabelle, 09/2020) was becoming an issue.

There was a storm brewing in a stubby holder and the subsequent fall out from this, was the Prime Minister calling for the resignation of the CEO Christine Holgate, over the alleged scandal of giving bonuses to executives worth $20,000.

The real juice to this story comes when Christine Holgate actually resigns and fronts a senate inquiry into her departure (Remeikis, 2021) to divulge findings from a secret review from management consultant firm BCG, to further privatise Australia Post, something that Holgate was opposed to. Facing a board with heavy links to the Liberal party, the demise of Holgate was assured.

By the time the vaccine mandate for all Victorian employees was announced on 01/10/2021, there was still a backlog of parcels and letters (Durkin, 09/2021) for Australia Post to deal with and leading into Christmas, the busiest time of the year, this was no time to be losing employees to mandates. After much confusion and at the last minute, a letter from the CWU union (Internet article, 2021) was sent to all members declaring that corporate members of Australia Post were exempt from the mandates. In true adherence to the tier structure that had been put in place by past management, the exemption to the mandate was not extended to Australia Post contractors, agency casual and licensed post offices. It is truly lucky that the deadly virus can make such distinctions and follow government guidelines.

What the events at Australia Post show is that large institutions and governments do not always have your best interest at heart, because they are following the beat of their own drum. At times these institutions see the individual as a pawn and an expendable one at that. To leave matters of health to such institutions is irresponsible.  To be mandated to have a medical procedure at the risk of losing your job is evil. To be true to yourself and stand your ground in the face of such evil is the most honourable thing you can do in this situation.

References:

CWU Union National, 29/11/2021 “CEPU/CWU Statement on Australia Post pandemic leave policy changes for unvaccinated employees”. Available at CEPU/CWU Statement on Australia Post Pandemic Leave Policy changes for unvaccinated employees  (Accessed 17/03/2022)

Internet Article “Australia Post corporate employees exempt from mandate due to Commonwealth status”.  Available at Australia Post corporate employees exempt from mandate due to “commonwealth status” | Reignite Democracy Australia  (Accessed 17/03/2022).

An Australia Post worker (23/07/2021), Red Flag, “How the pandemic is being used to strangle Australia Post”.  Red Flag.   Available https://redflag.org.au/article/how-pandemic-being-used-strangle-australia-post (Accessed 19/03/2022)

Durkin, P, (09/2021), Financial Review, “Over the edge: Australia post pauses Melbourne Parcels”. Available https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/over-the-edge-australia-post-pauses-melbourne-parcels-20210928-p58vfu (Accessed 18/03/2022).

Harris, B (10/09/2020), The Sydney Morning herald, “Australia Post, Pauline Hanson and the locked down public housing tower”. Available https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/australia-post-pauline-hanson-and-the-locked-down-public-housing-tower-20200909-p55u01.html
(Accesses 20/03/2020)

Isabelle, L (09/2020) “Australia Post workers threatened with disciplinary actions for exposing parcel blockages”.  The New Daily. Available Australia Post workers threatened with disciplinary action (thenewdaily.com.au) (Accessed 20/03/2022).

Rmeikis, A (2021) “Christine Holgate reveals part of secret review backing more Australia Post privatisation”.  The Guardian.
Available: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/apr/14/christine-holgate-reveals-parts-of-secret-review-backing-more-australia-post-privatisation (Accessed 20/03/2022)

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