© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2024

NZ Post plans to cut 750 jobs, will use contractors instead

Rebekah Hunt
NZ Post Sign
NZ Post plans to cut jobs as fewer Kiwis use postal services.  Rebekah Hunt

NZ Post will be sticking to the plan that it first hinted at in a 2023 media release.

NZ Post has confirmed 750 postal workers will lose their jobs in favor of individual contractors. They plan to merge package and letter delivery into one service, relying on couriers. NZ Post Chief Executive, David Walsh, says that NZ Post must make tough decisions to grow the business while mail volume continues to decline. Kiwis are now sending only 220 million mail items a year, a number that is projected to fall further.  

John Maynard, from the New Zealand Postal Workers Union of Aotearoa (PWUA), says he is worried about the rights of the workers involved. Couriers, usually responsible for package delivery, would not be labelled as employees. This means they aren’t guaranteed time off. 

I've already had couriers coming and telling me that they've been told by their accountants they're paid below the legal minimum wage. Their contract says they aren’t entitled to annual leave, sick leave, superannuation, bereavement leave, even parental leave.” - John Maynard 

He says that NZ Post would be able to impose work onto contractors that are required to work the given hours, regardless of how long.  NZ Post also rejected the PWUA's effort to retain postal jobs in an ecofriendly manner - the Union had proposed putting Posties on electric bikes. Instead, NZ Post will work with ‘super contractors’; separate contractors that organise their own employees while under NZ Post's control. Maynard believes this is hypocritical, as NZ Post is letting go of its own people to accommodate the change.  

“It’s somewhat hypocritical when New Zealand Post will not engage their contractors as employees but will require the super contractors to engage up to six of the couriers as employees instead." 

Nz post delivery
An employee delivering a package NZ Post

The Postal Workers Union is heading to the Wellington employment court on the 15th of July, wanting two contractors to be recognised as employees under the Employment Relations Act. Maynard is hoping the outcome will be the same as the 2020 Uber case where it was found that four Uber drivers were employees instead of contractors.

In terms of NZ Post, the court will examine the amount of control NZ Post holds over its contractors. They will look at appearance, and whether a courier would be recognised as part of NZ Post in the eyes of a disinterested person. Maynard says that if the two contractors are accepted as employees, it would be an opportunity to look deeper into the changes that have been planned. 

NZ Post continues to work with its current team, offering a ‘Just Transition’ support program for those who are affected by redundancies. They are talking to the Union as both sides try to find a solution to the postie problem.