Postal workers' union warns Australia Post
The Communications Division of the CEPU has told Australia Post to withdraw its policy on no chairs at counters in PostShops or face further action. The threat of further action follows claims by the postal workers' union that Australia Post is trying to circumvent a recent Federal Court decision which the union says has effectively overthrown its "no chairs" policy in retail PostShops. A recent Federal Court ruling found that Australia Post had discriminated against a Sydney postal worker, Sarah Daghlian, by directing her onto sick leave and terminating her employment because she required a chair at the counter in the PostShop in suburban Manly for intermittent rest while serving customers. The Federal Court found that Ms Daghlian was "a competent and conscientious employee" and that there was no good reason for removing the stool on which she had relied for 11 years. CEPU Communications Division Secretary, Brian Baulk, said that Australia Post could easily create a space in the retail counter so that pregnant workers and workers with physical disabilities could serve customers in a seated position. Mr Baulk said the only barrier to accommodating the needs of these workers is Australia Post's attitude that chairs look untidy and slovenly. The problem goes all the way to the top. In spite of the evidence that pregnant workers or workers with physical disabilities perform their duties with a chair effectively and without interference with the day to day operations of PostShops, Australia Post senior management, in the name of image, have refused to withdraw the ban on chairs at retail counters. In fact, Australia Post has ignored the court judgment and advised the union that there are no plans to vary the retail counter design so that workers with physical disabilities may work in a seated position. Instead these workers are to be managed under a program that will see them directed home on sick leave and then terminated. Chairs at retail counters have a long history. At one stage, Australia Post had agreed to incorporate chairs into the design process for a new retail fit-out but had later reneged on the agreement claiming that it would create an unjustifiable hardship on the organisation. Mr Baulk said it was nonsense to suggest that one of Australia's most profitable companies producing profit year after year would suffer hardship by having to provide chairs to accommodate pregnant workers and workers with physical disabilities. He said Australia Post managers were misguided if they thought the union would collaborate or co-operate in this unfair and discriminatory approach to managing employees with physical disabilities.