Warning to expect parcel delays to continue through to Christmas

Industrial action, COVID-19 disruptions and Christmas-level parcel volumes every week mean lengthy delays to delivery times are here to stay, according to the boss of logistics software company Shippit.

“Our data tells us that we’re seeing a two to three business day delay on most deliveries going across the nation,” the company’s chief executive, Rob Hango-Zada, told The Business.

“But with the recent union activity and volume delays that we’re seeing in networks, that’s really starting to blow out beyond that three to seven business day mark.”

Up to 3000 FedEx workers were the latest to launch strike action over job security fears, walking off the job for 24 hours yesterday.

The Transport Workers Union, which represents the workers, said the company had refused to guarantee that secure transport jobs would not be outsourced.

“FedEx made enormous profits last year off the back of workers who sweated it out in depots and trucks to keep parcels moving,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“This industry-wide assault on good jobs and secure conditions is pushing workers to the brink.”

The union has launched its own counter-offensive, with a strike by thousands of Toll truck drivers just over a month ago and similar industrial action last week by 2000 employees at Australia Post’s parcel subsidiary StarTrack.

As well, the TWU is also applying to take protected industrial action at logistics company Global Express, with potential strike action having also been threatened at Linfox and Bevchain.

For its part, FedEx argued its offer to workers was fair.

Engine on FedEx plane
FedEx is the latest logistics and parcel delivery company in Australia to face industrial action by the TWU. (Reuters: Philippe Wojazer)

“We have been engaging cooperatively in negotiations with the TWU in an attempt to secure a fair wage and superannuation increase that can be passed on to our employees at the earliest opportunity,” the company said in a statement when the strike action was announced.

“FedEx currently pays higher wage rates and superannuation when compared with many of our competitors.

“Our current wage increase offer is also very competitive.

“FedEx is committed to promoting job security for our employees, and we have agreed in our negotiations to reduce the use of outside hire where we are able.”

Delivering a Christmas every week’
This has all been occurring as Australia Post this week paused parcel pick-ups in Melbourne to cope with a backlog of orders and COVID-19 disruptions.

Australia Post endured similar disruptions recently in Sydney when hundreds of its logistics workers were forced into self-isolation as COVID-19 close contacts.

Mr Hango-Zada warned this would not be the last of the disruptions because Australia’s parcel-handling system remains overwhelmed.

“I can’t stress enough how difficult it is to be a courier company or a logistics provider in this current climate,” he said.

“We think there’s going to be more industrial action that’s going to happen across the industry.

“We’re going to see a lot of unusual behaviour from logistics carriers that we wouldn’t otherwise see.”

Shoppers are being urged to be patient amid the delays, and to allow for extra time for goods they order to arrive.

“If you look at any of the announcements from Australia Post, they’re delivering Christmas every single week,” Mr Hango-Zada said.

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