Post rip off

A KORUMBURRA whistleblower told The Star he was paid just $8 an hour to work for Leongatha’s new parcel delivery contractor.

Bruce Witton says he was given $100 cash for his arduous 12 and a half hour workday and forced to use his own vehicle for two hours of the shift.

More than five hours of introductory training prior to his official Monday start up went unpaid.

Ray Joyce: the Leongatha parcel delivery man lost his contract after 20 years.

Ray Joyce: the Leongatha parcel delivery man lost his contract after 20 years.

The Star believes the underpayment of Mr Witton is not an isolated incident.

The bargain basement work contract breaches workplace laws, with the Road Traffic and Distribution Award, entitling casual employees to a minimum $22.22 an hour.

“We worked all day. I was supposed to have a break sometime between one and three, but that never happened. I worked 12 and a half hours and I used my own car for the last couple of hours,” he said.

Mr Witton said a Pakistani man who started on the same day and drove another van, was hours behind, struggling with the unfamiliar streets and terrain.

The man in charge of training the delivery workers is known as “Icky”, the husband of Barinder Anand Sudan, who owns the Leongatha contract. She has four other contracts around the state, and has seen a rapid growth in the fortunes of her company, Company Harmony Xova.

“I didn’t stop all day and it was 20 to six when we finished. I said to Icky, ‘What’s the go here? I’m not going to do this for bugger all money.’ He said, ‘I’ll give you $100.’ I told him I wasn’t sticking around for that. So I took the $100 and went,” Mr Witton said.

“He said, ‘You come back tomorrow.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not coming back tomorrow, mate.’”

The Leongatha contract was run for 20 years by Leongatha’s Ray Joyce. The 62 year old said he was told by Australia Post in the lead up to the tendering process he would be too old to secure another five year extension.

He was also issued a whittled down contract offer and asked to match it. It was tens of thousands of dollars below what he believes it could operate for, paying himself and another man – who he intended to employ – a modest wage.

All decisions were made in Melbourne, and have nothing to do with Leongatha Post Office staff.

Ms Sudan’s workers are believed to be living in a rental property locally, paid for by Company Harmony Xova. Mr Witton’s chance at work came up because “the blokes who came up from Melbourne only lasted two days”.

“They quit. Icky thought I was pretty good because I knew the streets of Leongatha,” Mr Witton said.

Mr Witton said Icky told him the company had bought a fleet of new vans, with eight purchased recently and 11 in the months prior.

“I asked him where he was getting his workers from and he told me it was from the taxi service in Keysborough,” Mr Witton said.

Communication Workers Union branch secretary Joan Doyle believes rorting in the Australia Post parcel delivery system has become widespread.

“What Australia Post says is, they award the contract and then it’s not up to them. But what we’re saying is, they benefit from the labour so it’s incumbent on them to check the people they’re giving the contracts to are complying with the law,” she said.

“They’re a government business enterprise and they have to ensure award wages and conditions. I think they’ve got a legal responsibility. Australia Post has total control over the job. Basically they set all the parameters, and they’re trying to get cheaper labour.

“Their contract with the union is supposed to guarantee they won’t lower the conditions of employees and take their opportunities away from them. But that’s exactly what they’re doing. They might say, we’re paying the contractor the right price so they can give their employees fair wages. But that’s not happening.”

Ms Doyle said she did not know if Australia Post was awarding contracts that were far too low, or whether contractors were simply ripping workers off.

“But the system is not working and it needs to be regulated. There’s widespread ignorance amongst the head contractors of what the wages and conditions are. They don’t even know what they’re supposed to be paying, much less paying it,” she said.

“Australia Post should monitor the people who have been awarded contracts to ensure they are complying with their responsibilities.”

Last week Australia Post told The Star there were “appropriate checks in place to ensure contractors comply with relevant workplace laws”.

“Australia Post has a rigorous tender process. We provide all applicants with the full service requirements and specifications for each tender. We are satisfied the new (Leongatha) contractor can fulfill the terms and conditions of their agreement,” a spokesperson said.

Ms Sudan did not answer calls from The Star.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=8086

Posted by on Aug 6 2013. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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