New Zealand Post's proposal to slash the number of days it delivers mail each week will hit posties "pretty bad", an employee says.
New Zealand Post has released a proposal seeking greater flexibility in the postal services it provides, including dropping the number of delivery days to three a week.
Steven Makisi has been a postie for three years, and currently works 40 hours a week.
"It's fun, you get outdoors and don't have to worry about bosses on your back," he said about his delivery run.
But his job security could be in doubt if the Government decides to change the deed that requires New Zealand Post to deliver mail Monday to Saturday.
"I guess we'll lose money because we won't be delivering as much, I think for us posties it'll be pretty bad," Makisi said.
The EPMU is currently consulting with New Zealand Post on its response to declining mail volumes, but says it believes a three day service is "not sustainable or justified".
EPMU postal industry organiser George Collins said the union recognises the commercial pressures facing NZ Post, but it is an issue postal services all over the world are having to adapt to.
"The EPMU is working together with New Zealand Post to find ways to adjust to this decline while protecting postal workers' jobs and the integrity of New Zealand's postal service," Collins said.
"This may involve a reduction in the number of delivery days or redeployment within New Zealand Post, but we would caution against any kneejerk reactions."
He said any changes need to be sustainable for all New Zealanders.
Prime Minister John Key said changes to New Zealand Post's delivery service are inevitable.
"The issues around New Zealand Post have been documented for some time," Key said today.
"We live in a world that is developing and evolving. People are receiving less mail so it makes sense for New Zealand Post to get itself sorted out."
He said job losses may be part of the changes, which are being driven by the increasing popularity of electronic communication.
Mail volumes have dropped considerably during the last 10 years, with 265 million fewer items being posted each year compared to 2002. And it is expected to keep dropping a further 25% in the next five years.
New Zealand Post chief executive Brian Roche said the company has no other choice.
"We're break even at the moment. We can't price our way out of this."
"How many of you sent Christmas cards last year, and how many of you received them, that's the reality of our world?"
Graeme Clarke of the Postal Workers Union said some people depend on physical mail delivery.
"About 30% of NZ isn't online and that's a significant number, and older people do value the mail more," he said.
Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams said the proposal has been put out for consultation and no decisions will be made until the public have has their say.
"We'll want to speak particularly to rural communities and the elderly, but I think one of the things we need to accept is the way we communicate has changed significantly and New Zealand post volumes are dropping so quickly that in a few years they're predicting half the volume they were carrying in 2002," she said.
"So they're not going to continue to be viable offering the same service they've been offering, and we have to accept that."
New Zealand Post needs Government approval to make its desired changes to its Universal Service Obligations.
Adams said a range of views will be considered before deciding on the way forward.
"In deciding whether to accept or reject the proposal or seek to negotiate a compromise, I will look to balance the interests of postal users with the need to ensure a financially-viable postal service."
New Zealand Post's proposed changes include having the flexibility to reduce the number of days mail is delivered to a minimum of three days a week and introducing more self-service kiosks.
New Zealand Post hopes to have changes in place by 2014 and front line job losses will be inevitable.
Minimum service requirements for New Zealand Post are set out in the Deed of Understanding it signed with the Crown in 1998. The Deed has not been significantly reviewed since it was signed.