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Austrian Post: talks “positive” with union threatening strike

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Austrian Post said today that union negotiations this week have proved positive, as the post looks to avoid postal strike action.

Management completed several hours of negotiations with union representatives from Tuesday afternoon, at a summit meeting regarding changes being made to the process of mail delivery in Austria.

The GPF – Federal Executive of the Union of Post and Telecommunications Staff – had been threatening to strike over what it described as “blatant violations” of employment policy within Austrian Post.

The union said mail carriers now having to deliver more parcels were being overloaded, with delivery areas enlarged in order to save money. It has also been complaining that older workers were being pressured to retire as Austrian Post looked to trim its workforce in light of the decline in letter volumes.

Georg Pölzl, the Austrian Post chief executive, said today: “We all agree that nobody wants to overload the staff. However, we must – as in previous years – respond to declining volumes with changes to the process. It is the responsibility of management, in the interest of everyone.”

Delivery areas in Austria have always been adjusted in response to shipment volumes, the Post said, but there have been more changes than ever in the past two years, with letter volumes down nearly 10% in that time.

Pölzl said the company could not afford to hold off on its reforms.

“This would only end up costing the customer, the company – and ultimately postal workers. It is a fact that we have fewer and fewer letters every year, and we must respond to this today and tomorrow,” he said.

Coordination

Austrian Post said it has agreed to postpone delivery zone changes planned for March by one month, and that it has agreed with the union that future changes should only be implemented during quiet months, and that it should be possible to have exceptions.

It was also agreed that there should be better coordination between the company and staff representatives regarding organisational changes in the delivery of letters and changes to the network.

The summit meeting did see approval for an earlier start each day, to cut downtime for shipments waiting to be delivered. Night-time rates will now be paid only until 6am.

Pölzl said: “More than ever, there is now a common understanding of the facts about these issues. Personal feelings have no place in the current situation for the mail – volumes are reducing year after year by nearly 40m letters. All stakeholders need to be aware that only a healthy company can sustain long-term jobs.”

Source: Post&Parcel/Austrian Post/GPF

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