Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said Ms Holgate had committed that the executive team would forego their right to bonuses for the 2019-20 financial year “in light of the impact of COVID-19”.
He said at the request of Australia Post, the government had temporarily provided regulatory relief to support it to continue providing critical postal services for all Australians throughout the crisis.
“Our government has honoured its commitment. The government expects Australia Post’s executive team to honour its commitment,” Mr Fletcher told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Ms Holgate, who was paid $2.5 million last year as the nation’s highest earning civil servant, is estimated to be in line for a $1 million-plus bonus while other executives could take home up to $600,000.
In the memo to staff on Monday, deliveries general manager Rod Barnes said AusPost needed people with a driver’s licence and car to help with parcel pick-up services from facilities in Dandenong South, Bayswater and Brooklyn and deliver to customers for shifts this week.
Staff are asked to declare they are able to carry and lift up to 16kg of mail and parcels repeatedly through the day.
“The work will involve minimal contact with others and you will be provided with personal protective equipment and training to ensure you are as safe and prepared to help your frontline teammates and our customers,” Mr Barnes writes.
He said participation was on “a voluntary basis”, similar to a Christmas peak-period program, and employees should contact their manager before taking part in a one-hour online training session.
An Australia Post spokesman said it was doing “all we can” to help process and deliver the items at the same time as its workforce capacity was reduced because of restrictions. Staff will be reimbursed for the use of their cars and those who volunteer on the weekend will receive time off in lieu.
AusPost was given temporary permission by the federal government in April to move to every second day delivery of mail in metro areas until June 30 next year, as part of a broader movement within the postal service to cut costs.
It issued warnings last week of major delays to Father’s Day mail deliveries amid constraints on the network and a continuing rise in parcel volumes affecting its “speed and ability to deliver”.
Victoria’s lockdown restrictions has forced a 10 per cent daily workforce reduction, rising to 33 per cent during peak times, coupled with split shifts to ensuring cleaning of distribution centres in metropolitan Melbourne.
The service defied its dire forecasts to record a 7 per cent jump in full-year revenue and a profit before tax of $53.6 million.
Ms Holgate told the ABC on Monday that she and her executive team may take bonuses, despite emailing all staff in March 31 this year saying senior management would take 20 per cent pay cuts and waive their right to bonuses as it looked to slash its costs.
“It’s pretty black and white … the [executive team] has led our business through one of the most challenging periods … and yet they’ve still delivered a fantastic result,” she said. “I’m very proud of them. Whether they get paid a bonus of not, the board can decide.”
Opposition communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said Australians would be “offended” that bonuses for highly remunerated public executives could have even been recommended at a time when “the country is in recession and postal services are being cut”.
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra