Squeezing the workers
This is Minh Nguyen, who has delivered Australia Post parcels to me for 14 years. A refugee who came by boat following the Vietnam War, he visits me almost every day with wine samples. He does a terrific job. He’s a hard worker and he cares. If I’m away he’ll hang onto the parcels and deliver them when I get back. We have each other’s phone numbers so we can contact each other if we need to.
He is a sub-contractor for Australia Post and gets paid $1.35 (inc GST) per parcel, whether it’s a single bottle or a dozen, or a wide-screen TV, whether he has to carry it up several flights of steps or not.
He works a full day every day of the working week, and at peak times, weekends as well. It’s physical work, which no doubt keeps him fit and strong. But as a sub-contractor, he gets no superannuation, holiday pay or loadings, and is essentially self-employed. He has to finance his own van and pay all his own costs. Recently someone damaged his van and he had to rent a replacement for a couple of weeks, at his own cost.
This is one way Australia Post has made such a success of its parcel post business, while letterbox deliveries have declined. It’s no doubt part of the clever management that justified the CEO of Australia Post being paid $5.6 million last year.
Minh, who is a good sport, just laughs about the CEO’s salary and says there’s nothing we can do about it, so why worry.
Minh and his family have unreservedly made Australia their home. Except for his accent, he’s a true blue Aussie. But he is a little miffed that Australia Post no longer hosts the occasional barbecue for its workers, and the few perks the job used to have were axed some time ago, as part of cost-cutting.
It’s not as though clever management has given Australia Post the boost it’s received from the growing parcel post business. It’s online shopping.
This is the way of the modern world: squeeze the workers piddling amounts which surely add up to nothing substantial, while paying the bosses obscene salaries.
No surprise that the CEO suddenly resigned just after the salary story hit the headlines. He’s made his pile anyway and is no doubt laughing all the way to the bank. He’d been in the job seven years and must have made a squillion in that time.
But it’s people like Minh who make Australia what it is, a place to be proud of.