Dispute re proposal for Indoor times for posties (ETOR)


Australia Post management have decided to re-introduce ‘indoor times’ for posties. They are calling this new system ETOR (Estimated Time on the Road).

The union believes this is a backward step, and have placed the matter in dispute. (See below)

“Indoor times” went out of favour, when the union and management conducted a stop-watch trial in 2013 about Miscellaneous Times.  This established that these far exceeded the 65 minutes Australia Post had allowed and showed that they differed greatly from Delivery Centre to Delivery Centre.  At this time, there was also an understanding that the cost of producing accurate workload estimates in a timely fashion was very expensive.

The final nail in the coffin of individual indoor times was that new processes – sequencing small parcels and scanning were introduced and no-one knew what would be reasonable rates.

Now Vance Duke (Deliveries Operations Manager – VIC/TAS/WA) has randomly selected a rate for sequencing small parcels of 11 per minute!  He has also decided on a rate of 7 parcels per minute for scanning.  These are obviously far too high.

One of our main concerns is about the lack of suitable equipment for posties (and night-sorters) to deal with parcels inside.  It has been over 5 years since our jobs have transitioned from letters to a greater proportion of parcels.  Where is management accountability?  They want us to do our job better and faster, but they don’t do theirs!

Management are ignoring the dispute process and are planning on counting posties parcels and times over the next two weeks to validate their times.  This is NOT the right way to establish sorting rates.

Beware of ‘speed-ups’ and ‘bullying’ inside during the next few weeks.  Please report any of this to the union office and shop-stewards should monitor the figures and times being recorded.

As always, we will keep you informed of the issue as it develops.

4 June 2019

Vance Duke
Operations Manager
Australia Post

Deliveries –VIC/TAS/WA
45 Grosvenor Street


Dear Mr Duke

Re: Indoor Estimated on Road Tool (ETOR)

I am writing to place this matter formally in dispute under Clause 42 of the Australia Post Enterprise Agreement 2017.

The union does not agree with the implementation of posties’ ‘indoor’ times.

  • The dispute is primarily about the times that you are trying to set for the sorting of parcels and for scanning.
  • The union is also in disagreement with your arbitrary times set for miscellaneous times.
  • We are also at odds about the whole concept of managing posties’ indoor times in this manner.

As you will be aware, there have been various attempts at providing estimates of work-loads and work-rates for the indoor times for PDOs.

  • Management have employed Team Leaders who are supposed to supervise the PDOs’ indoor time.
  • The cost of data collection to an accuracy that is fair is more than any savings that could be achieved by having ETOR.
  • The time at which such data would be available (after night-shift finishes), comes at a time which makes it unfair to expect posties to have met that estimated time.  For example, a postie who starts at 6am would be unlikely to been given an estimated time until 7.45 or 8 am.
  • It was difficult enough to get reasonable sort rates when posties dealt solely with letters, now that they receive up to 120 parcels a day, it is obvious that the parcels can be a range of types (express, registered, etc), and completely different sizes and weights.
  • It is also clear that there is a compounding factor the greater the number of parcels to be dealt with.
  • The different equipment and systems used by posties also makes a difference to their sort rates.

So far, you have conducted a ‘mickey mouse’ trial with 3 people.  You presented the data to me and a delegate at a meeting on May 20, 2019.  It was clear from this, that the estimates management had made were not valid on most occasions.  Your reports of times achieved differed substantially from the times reported by the participants.

Management have not even tried to examine the different functions and methods involved in dealing with the parcels and scanners inside.  There have been no studies about whether the rates you seek to impose are safe from a manual handling and cognitive load perspective and whether these rates can reasonably be done by a significant majority of the work population.

I know that you are familiar with the required processes under the Work Health Safety Act for when an employer seeks to set a sort rate.  I know you are familiar with ‘the 18/13 small letter’ sort rate setting exercise conducted by LaTrobe University.

Either you need to adopt modern methods of supervising staff while they are working indoors or if you insist on a ‘time and motion” approach, you need to do the work involved in doing this properly.

The definition of a ‘time and motion’ study is: the systematic investigation and analysis of the motions and the time required to  perform a specific operation or task with a view to seeking more efficient methods of production as well as setting time standards.”

This needs to be conducted by experts in a proper manner.

In relation to the Miscellaneous Times I refer you to the stop-watch trials conducted jointly by management and the union over the whole of Australia several years ago which found a large variation in this time according to the size of people’s facilities and tasks.

This probably needs to be updated due to the modes of delivery and different work practices.

I seek your urgent response to this dispute notification.

Yours faithfully
Joan Doyle

Communication Workers Union
Postal & Telecommunications Branch Victoria

0419 345 134