Note: This legal brief was prepared under duress back in'06 and maybe somewhat incoherent, disjointed, repetitious, and unwieldy.
Last update (approx. 34 pages / 15,000 words):
19 November '06
PO Box 1
Potts Point NSW 1335
To: Our Supporters
Re: Austalia Post / Graeme John: Bully and Trade Practices Act Violator -
- compensatory and punitive damages: $10 million +
Dear Sirs / Madams
It all started when my heavily pregnant partner was not allowed by Australia Post, the powerful monopoly infamous for bullying employees, to have a few hours of available sitdown work at her Post Office. She ended up with her uterus hanging out between her legs, post-surgery couldn't piss anymore, they stuck a tube through her guts into her bladder, infections, stuff-ups ...don't let it happen to your family!"
Back in January '06 in vain we tried to find a law firm to negotiate with Australia Post or instigate legal action against them in cases involving festering negligence, and serious violations of the Trade Practices Act, that goes to the top of the organization.
As expected the Sydney law profession turned out to be useless - the yellow pages adverstising of these firms that hold themselves out to be the saviour of the Aussie Battler is blatantly false. We've been trying to expose them, see the saga here.
To try to put you in the picture from the get go - imagine preparations for a documentary - instructions for the director and film crew :
FADE IN: MONTAGE OF Post office counter worker and their family being intimidated - a family suffering through hell - this is Graeme John's Australia Post transformed - a reflection of Graeme John, as forever the 22 year old aggressive footballer - INTERCUT GJ CAREER MONTAGE - "A bit of biff is OK!" - INTERCUT THE PLEB MONTAGE: contrast the pleb behind the counter - dangerous workplace - toxic fumes - no air conditioning - no complaining allowed or blacklisted - 7-months pregnant woman - no sitdown time - uterine prolapse surgery needed - INTERCUT uterus protruding 2 cm outside the vagina [Yuk! Fleshy thing with a pointy end, looks like something out of the Alien movie] - post-surgery complications - CUT TO MAN WITH BEARD "imagine what it's like not to be able to urinate" - long-term catheter use - pesistent UTIs (urinary tract infections) - depression, schizophrenia, nervous breakdowns - INTERCUT damage to family, especially toddler - sick leave - pressure from AP to sign off on: 'it all must be non-work related' and give us access to your private medical records - refusal to allow entitled Long Service Leave - 'you kick a dog long enough. it...' the partner has had enough - registered letter direct to Managing Director of Australia's Postal Service, Mr Graeme John - LSL miraculously fixed in hours - but no mention of apology, no mention of compensation, no mention of fixing system so that it won't happen to another family - just a sparse letter from someone with no title - someone must have been poorly brought up by their parents - or someone is quite concerned about legal liability implicatons....FADEOUT
FADEIN : The Godfather, Graeme John, with some sychophants in a club - always an AFL man at heart - Australia's highest paid public servant - $2 mil. + bonus + perks - over a decade at the top - ready to retire - INERCUT shaking hands with Prime Minister John Howard, his legacy, lots of auspicious friends - a great man, his legacy, supporter of charities, his legacy, directorships, his legacy, parties, his legacy, travel, his legacy, enjoying his grandchildren, his legacy ... TRANSPOSE : Graeme John's great-granddaughter, now 22, reading on the Internet - something Googled - the National Library of Australia ..."our family has all this money and social standing ... but ... here it is, intricately researched and put together, newspaper articles, a TV documentary and book even, interviews, affidavits, hundreds of plebs who were on the wrong end of the stick, blow by blow... my great-grandfather, Graeme John, was a bloody bully."
THE END. ROLE CREDITS
It's the usual game-plan with a powerful monopoly / dictatorship, like Australia Post - anyone that dares to complain gets intimidated, they're experts at standover tactics.
They know they can't be hurt...
- they have John Howard and his new Workplace laws;
- they have billions of dollars behind them,
- they have a high-powered legal department with an unlimited budget and some of the best legal brains in Australia - that will blow away any law firm that has the audacity to represent the plebs.
We declare that if we are ever able to force the bad guys in all this to demonstrate genuine contrition, all the money would go to the Pelvic Floor Care Foundation, see here.
The Lawbreaker - Australia Post / Managing Director, Graeme John
Australia Post, that's Australia's Postie, our nations's oldest business, some 200 years - the deliverer of all our personal mail, hopes and dreams - now acts like an Aussie Rules hatchetman. And that's no coincidence, because the man who has encouraged this rough play is ex-South Melbourne player / coach, Managing Director - highest paid public servant in Australia, soon to retire on a nice fat package, Graeme John.
Graeme John - Bully
Australia's highest paid public servant
$2 million plus $300,000 bonus plus perks
The new game plan is use every dirty trick in the book to reduce 'Animal Resources' expenses. That's not so bad if you're talking about Holden and the cut-throat auto business. Flashy cars are not a necessity, they're an optional consumer item. But here, we're talking about the backbone that 'links' all Australians, of all classes. This is about our letters and parcels. Australia's mailer should be a mirror image of the true-blue Australian - give every Australian, no matter where they live, 'a fair go' - epitomized by the spirit of the Billjims (no better example of it than the Australian Light Horsemen). Our mail. There's no reason to con other Australians into paying $4 for "Express" delivery that will get there at the same time for 50c. Of the current $525 million profit, an independent study could attribute at least half to ripping off fellow Australians. A fairdinkum bully. Is that the legacy, is that what Mr John wants to be remembered for being.
Knowing he can get away with anything, Graeme John, deliberately fosters a culture of intimidation. He retains attack dogs to beat up on women, the uneducated, the weak, fellow Australians. Examples of which abound. Some are detailed below, and the most recent example was reported in newpapers, with the headline "Australia Post 'Punishes Protesters'" on 25 November '05 - see here).
It will be shown in the brief below that there is a strong case that Graeme John in premeditated acts of negligence - probably transferred from football coaching tactics against another team of rough players to the Aussie Battler - is violating not just business / trading ethics, and the Trade Practice Act, but it also becomes an ASIC matter, re Companies Act laws governing negligent behaviour of directors of an incorporated company in Australia.
Thus tactically, it would seem the best angle of attack, is straight at the jugular of the architect, the Machiavellian Managing Director of Australia Post, himself, Graeme John, because he wants to retire soon with his legacy in tact. He is the man who has carefully fostered the culture of football style bullying. Bullying now permeates all of AP from bullying pregnant and wounded women to the battler on the street, who pays for Express and gets 2-day delivery.
The ultimate responsibility stops at his desk. He's been in the job for over 12 years, time enough to take ethics seriously. AP's first post office opened in George Street, Sydney in '1809 and is our most important corporation - being now a Government Business Enterprise (GBE) ready to go after Telstra. Graeme John has an obligation to do more than squeeze personnel costs using any subterfuge possible, regardless of the 'privatization by stealth' program.
Does Graeme John want to go down in Australian history as the man who headed up Australia's highest profile organization and then paid thugs to bully the Australian battler, even women recovering from hernias he caused.
There's been a long trail of negligence effecting individuals like me, my partner, other AP workers, and the Australian people generally, who in particular are being ripped-off in Trade Practice Act violations on express /courier products to the tune of millions of dollars each year. This is more than just a case of reporting the rip-off to consumer advocate departments. Mr John's Australia Post needs to be shaken up.
Privatization by Stealth
Generally, AP has a policy of 'Privatization by Stealth'. In terms of current applicability to IR and Workplace laws rammed through by Howard, for several years now AP has been steadily making the relevant structural changes that squeeze workers and reduce their quality of life. Moving to 'licenced POs' where workers have less leverage. Replacing full-time union workers with part-time workers who have less leverage (can't afford to be members of the union, anyway). Most part-timers work from 12-5pm when most of the PO business occurs. Effectively AP extracts almost full-time work for part-time cost. (Of course, this is part of John Howard's secret to low unemployment statistics, add-back the ever increasing number of part-timers in the economy working for poverty level wages and unemployment is really heading above 30%)
This program also involves discrimination - the part-timers compare themselves with the full-timers - they serve as many customers for a lot less salary, only the FTs are allowed to start a half-hour early (8:30) - when there are no customers, and work up an RDO (rostered day off), and only the FTs get a teabreak. The PTs are expected to work 5 hours straight.
More and more of AP is being subcontracted to big business, like parcel delivery, and even their payroll department.
And there's been the program of selling off all the beautiful old post offices (e.g. Kogarah PO) - now they lease premises - another transfer of funds from the Australian people to big business.
The Old and the New
Thus it came to pass that recent personal experiences have led to the 'straw that broke the camel'es back'. As a concerned father of a toddler, and as a concerned Australian, I feel an obligation to try to find a law firm run by people who can empathize with grassroots Australians, and try to get something done about Graeme John.
Thereby showing other victims that even with John Howard's 'screw-the-worker laws' - you don't have to helplessly watch you family disintegrate - the top law firms can still win for the plebs.
And that the benefit of any success in fighting back go to the Australian people. As proof that these motives are genuine, I am able to show in a concrete way that my own endeavours, in terms of legacy, are significant (e.g. archived by the National Library of Australia in Canberra) and altruistic, just Google : Peter Hogan.
About my partner (SK)
Born '1966. SK is Nepalese Australian, has not had the opportunity to get much education. Began working on Potts Point Post Office Counter in '94.
Thus she is naturally reluctant to jeopardize her AP job. Is very apprehensive about the AP intimidation tactics. And is even nervous about getting legal counsel.
And she is surrounded by bloodsuckers - has a family, and ex-husband / child support dodger - who are major financial drags. Indeed, a serious concern is that if we were able to win a lump sum package / settlement, they, especially her (step) mother would go after it.
So in a lot of ways it would be preferable to minimize her case in the overall scheme of things.
To back these parasites off a bit, and alleviate such financial drag, when we got together we moved to my parents place. And eventually got her family out of the proverbial apartment and sold it, i.e. no more mortgage. So we are not as beat around the head by AP as other workers.
Following post prolapse surgery complications sick leave April - July '05, we finally forced AP to allow her to take her Long Service Leave at half pay to get over the nightmare (that AP caused, through no enforced regulations to allow sitdown time for heavily pregnant women behind a counter). She is due back to work on 24 January '06.
About Peter Hogan / Author
Born. '1956, started working at same PO in Feb. '00. Grew up in Sydney. Graduated from UTS in '78, successful career in administration for a German multi-national - salary package had been steadily clmbing, by '89 it included base $45,000 + bonus ($5,000) + company car + non-contributory super + overseas trips. After going on one such business trip to Japan, ended up living there for several years - income in Japan, with a much lower tax rate, was equivalent to about A$100,000. Lingering recession in Japan decided return to Sydney. The Japan experience gave PH the bug to do some writing. While working on these projects just needed some part-time work. So ended up at AP (Potts Point).
While living and working in Kings Cross area saw an opportunity to set up a website, kxol.com.au, that has a visitor demographic across the spectrum, through eclectic orignial works authored by PH.
Consequently PH's work is archived by the National Library of Australia in Canberra, here, as a result of the power generated from his website's Google ranking.
And that means it has the power to attract the media - see this article in the Melbourne Age newspaper - senior journalist, Jane Sullivan, found PH's work through Google then contacted him for an interview to incorporate into the feature story (see here or copy here) - about his
"Australians of Arabia" being plagiarized by this evangelist impostor.
Further PH has even achieved a connection into Rupert Murdoch's media empire - see correspondence with Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.
Key point is that PH has been around, knows how an organization should be run, when there is serious negligence and in particular breaches of the Trade Practices Act...
A relationship between PH and SK started in January '02, and she became pregnant in April '02. Tara was born 31 Dec '02.
(Note: In April we also moved to PH's parents place. It soon became clear that the main reason for getting together with PH was to have a baby and use him and his family to get SK's Nepalese mother into Australia. To that point the thousands of dollars she had been spending on immigration consultants had gone for nought. PH 'performed' at an immigration tribunal, and using a guarantee from his father and the family home address the judge reversed the earlier visa rejection. PH had SK's mother in Australia by September '02 - barely 8 months after we got together. As mentioned above, during this time PH became aware of the extent of the baggage SK was carrying with a family of world champion bloodsuckers.
Once the relationship became known to other staff and the postal manager (Emma Lintern) there was no move to separate us by transferring PH. This may have been because of PH's extra-curricular value to that PO. PH did make various attempts to find other positions in AP. Being there did mean PH was able to observe first hand what SK went through - the lack of regulations / care for pregnant women.
After being forced out of AP in February '03, ended up becoming a House-Dad to Tara who is now almost 3.
More PH bio. details here.
Potts Point Post Office Background
For years the post office was more in Potts Point proper, down the hill of Macleay Street. Then in mid '2000 it was relocated up the hill almost into the heart of Kings Cross, adjacent to Fitzroy Park, at the time a haven for homeless, alcoholics, drug addicts, pychopaths, et al. We were moved into the Rex Hotel building complex. The location and size of the rented space was the responsibilty of Dennis Killeen, then Area Manager for POs in the City / East, clearly without any checking of the customer base to support the large space rented.
No Postal Manager wants to work in dangerous Kings Cross
Shortly after the long-time Postal Manager , Barry Parmenter, retired, beginning a series of inept PMs and acting-PMs, mainly because no self-respecting career PM was prepared to work in the new dangerous location.
After Barry came Lorrane 'someone' (don't rememer her last name, she didn't stay long enough). She even admitted to lowly counter staff like us, "I'm getting out of here it's too dangerous".
Emma Lintern Acting-Postal Manager Fiasco
As nobody wanted the PM job in dangerous Kings Cross, it was probably Dennis Killeen again, who appointed Emma Lintern as Acting-PM (in mid '01). Gossip preceded her arrival - that she was a lesbian with a lot of personal problems and had been a failure as PM of North Sydney, had some kind of breakdown and resigned from AP. After some 2 years she wanted back in, but had apparently lost her PM grading. Thus she was apparently made an Acting-PM with the grading of a PSO (counter staffer). It soon became clear that she was indeed a basket case, poor management / people skills, always disappearing for a cigarette, always leaving early at 4:30pm - the busiest and hairest time of the day for robberies. And she used to suddenly disappear for days at a time - no phone call, nothing. Showed clear evidence of being anti-male and little affinity for pregnant staff. (There is a noticeable female chauvinist culture in AP.) Not surprisingly she eventually resigned again from AP (in early '05).
No enforced AP regulation to give heavily pregnant women sitdown time
A key example of AP personnel management negligence is that there is no enforced policy to regularly rotate all counter staff to the back office (so they can add skills to their résumés and improve the chances of promotion and a transfer), let alone heavily pregnant ones. What was happening at Potts Point is that the same guy ended up doing this function for some 5 years (starting in '00 and maybe still doing it). His name is Alan Irfandi, an Indonesian-Australian. He has a cosy relationship with the supervisor (and often Acting-PM), Hatim (only uses his first name) a Palestinian-Australian - they have a close relationship, e.g. massage each other in the back office, are practicing Muslims. [The only ones in the office, Hatim even recently reported to head office anti-Muslim comments by one of the other staff.] Alan has been running his private business from out the back. At one stage apparently he even had the post office phone and fax numbers on his personal business card.
Nobody, not Emma, Hatim, or Alan cared about giving SK some sitdown time in the backoffice, even when heavily pregnant just a month before going on maternity leave. A ludicrous situation that did not help SK's pregnancy at all, and may well have contributed to her developing uterine prolapse and the putting her and our family on the road to a 3 year plus nightmare.
Other areas of negligence and abuse
As AP, that is, the counter staff, have increasingly taken on more of bankteller duties (and banks close branches) but don't get the bullet / syringe-stabbing proof glass that they have in banks. The worst time for robberies is just after 5 pm when staff are trying to get rid of stragglers and reconciling their cash. And as noted, managers like Emma go home at 4:30 instead of being there to watch the door. And in Kings Cross there's the hairy walk between the post office and the train station.
Major Occcupational Hazard Reconstruction of Building - most tenants move out, not AP
Now the Rex Hotel is sold and the new owner begins demolition and reconstruction.
Once this all got started and the large scale became clear, all the tenants except Australia Post closed down, left or sued the building owners for loss of revenue. We probably stayed and complaints ignored, because nobody wanted to bring attention to the fact that when Potts Point Post Office was relocated further up Macleay Street closer to the heart of Kings Cross in '00, they rented too much office space for the local customer base, creating further losses and pressures to cut staff. Indeed, much later the office space was halved. (One of the reasons Potts Point had too many staff is that it had one person included in its staff numbers that hasn't been seen for years - some kind of workers comp matter.)
AP knew that the building should be vacated
It's a telling point that PH at one point spoke to the construction foreman over the counter, he knew we were all alarmed at what was happening, and he said "that it was his understanding that the building / tenants would all be moved out before work began."
Clearly the new owners and construction managers must have advised AP to move out, or AP and other tenant should have pressured the owners to compensate the cost of the move to other premises until the work was finished.
And staff were never told of the estimated time it would take to do the work. At the beginning we thought it would be all over in weeks, minor renovations, but it dragged on for months. AP must have known that, and again should have found out this basic information.
The reason for these shortcomings could only be because Dennis Killeen did not want to draw top management's attention to the fact that he had rented way too much office space.
Union didn't help
At one point SK phoned the union, could hardly hear the other end of the line because of the construction noise. The fantastic help from the union, the good old CEPU - when you find out that the 'P' stands for Plumbing not Postal, you finally realize why they are useless. One gets the impression that the union and AP are in bed together especially from once when Lorrane (one of the many Potts Point PMs) joked about her position in the union, and yet she was clearly sucking up to top management.
At another point PH went into Emma's office and asked her had she been talking to the union about getting help. She said no. Then PH asked her if she was even a member of the union. She said no.
And of course for pregnant women the union should have posters on the staff kitchen wall about their rights if there are any regulations about sit-down time.
Documentary proof of Bullying by Graeme John
Much later (after PH's departure) staff were even pressured into signing an agreement to accept $300 as compensation on the understanding no further claims could be made for problems arising from this dangerous situation.
This action is unequivocal proof of how a large corporation can bully and intimidate line worker plebeians - a model for what John Howard's so called "Work Choices" Industrial Relations laws (never mentioned in his '2004 Election campaign).
(click to enlarge)
Post office counter work is hazardous at the best of times - standing, lifting, frequent robberies, no bullet-proof glass, abusive customers (because mail is forever going astray) even more so when an incompetent manager has been appointed. Many ill-founded policies, for profit reasons, contribute to the risks. Including things like the 'no stools behind counters policy' when you could have stools on a spring that can swing under the counter out of the way, to help reduce back, leg and varicose vein problems.
And of course you always get these very subtle hints coming from up above, that whatever problems you develop just has to be 'non-work related'. To avoid liability for health problems related to lifting and standing over years of service, AP appears to have a regulation that you can only put in a claim for compensation if it's lodged within 12 hours of the incident happening.
And if you try to buck the system, there will be subtle 'repercussions' - ostracism - no promotion...
The 5 Possible Cases :
1) SK & Her Family v AP
Negligence at 7-months pregnant etc
Negotiate package / compensation for SK and her family re negligence when 7-months pregnant in late '02 and working on post office counter. She was not allowed normally available sitdown time in the back-office by an acting-Postal Manager, Emma Lintern, who was mentally unstable and professionally incompetent (As mentioned above, she had resigned as PM of North Sydney PO and left AP for some 2 years. She came back, and was only appointed to Potts Point PO because word was out among qualified PMs that Potts Point / Kings Cross was too dangerous.)
By about 8-months pregnant SK had developed Uterine Prolapse - the cervix of the uterus was protruding out of the vagina by about 2 centimetres. And so began a nightmare for our family that has been going for over 3 years now.
The joys of having a catheter to pass urine, maybe for the rest of your life, the length of which will depend on how lucky you are at beating infections, the daily cleaning regime you use... a suprapubic catheter is stabbed right through the stomach straight into, hopefully the bladder (if they've guessed the right spot). And there it is... sleeping with it, showering with it... taking your clothes off and there it is... your little daughter stares at it... the massive effect on your family... all because certain people were criminally negligent. But 'they' can continue to go about their affluent lifestyles in distracted denial, unless things, the law, karma ... catches up with them...(more)
SK has given 11 years (started in '94) of loyal service to Australia Post (Personnel No: APS 62041780 ) behind the counter at Potts Point Post Office.
April '02 fell pregnant. When heavily pregnant, particularly from 7 months (Sep/Oct), not allocated available sitdown time in back-office.
And as mentioned above, this was in a dangerous building that was being partly demolished and rebuilt with AP not prepared to pay the cost of temporary relocation until construction was finished.
Backoffice continued to be given to Alan Irfandi another sometime counter staffer, who basically runs his own private business out there.
Nov. '02: goes on Maternity Leave and has now developed uterine prolapse.
After the birth she began going to the Gynae Clinic at St George Hospital, i.e., through the public system (we can't afford private health insurance).
On 7 April '05 she finally got her call that her name was up for surgery.
After Prolapse Surgery on 11 April '05 she went through months of hell with post-surgery complications - urine retention. Imagine going to the toilet and no matter what you do you can't pee, they stick a catheter through your tummy into your bladder, perhaps for the rest of your life, and nobody is really interested in the cause or getting the problem fixed. See detailed diary here.
As things kept going wrong we had to keep putting in new Sick Leave applications which in this period ran until 29 June.
As things unfolded it was always felt that AP management were treating SK like the post surgery complications were a put-on, a scam. Given the problem we had finding good specialists we would have been happy to see one of AP's doctors. All this is while a major report by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards is released about the mess in the Australian Hospital / Health System, on June 24, re hospitals not up to scratch. Dr Death at Bundaberg Hospital, etc. More here.
SK began to feel them out on the possibility of some sit-down work on her return. AP automatically go into a mode that is based on any health problems of staff must have their origins in a non-work related mishap, to ensure they avoid any kind of liability.
There subsequent letter dated 21 June was from Ghaith Krayem, Human Resources Manager (NSW) letter (signed for him by a Katrina Schmidtke - later found to be some kind of HR "Consultant" - normally that would imply she's external to AP. This letter (copy here) with lots of attachments, was basically pressuring SK into signing off that her medical condition was "non-work related" otherwise she would have to authorize them to access her medical / hospital records (presumably so they could find something to show that her condition was not work-related).
AP approved (perhaps inadvertently) the balance of her due Annual Recreation Leave from 30 June to 20 July.
We ignored their 21 June letter. Then on 27 June SK applied (copy here) for Long Service Leave (at half pay i.e. over 6 months), to start from 21 July. (Would endup taking until 27 October - 3 months - to force them to approve the full 6 months, even though SK and her family had been through hell.)
The improvement in late June was basically made possible after PH found a new specialist completely outside of St George, Dr Andrew Korda, Sydney Urodynamics Centres. On 21 June he did testing which resulted in a new treatment program and going on a special medication, Ditropan, which eventually started helping. SK was put on that indefinitely, but it does have problem side effects.
Then on 15 July came a phone call from Hatim, the supervisor (and often Acting-PM) at Potts Point Post Office to say : "Had she received the letter" that her Long Service Leave application had not been approved. We never did receive the rejection letter stating the reason, despite repeated requests for a copy.
It was inferred in phone calls that it was something about SK can't take Long Service Leave straight after Sick Leave. Strange, because that's not what was happening - she was on approved Recreation Leave in between (perhaps someone messed up approving the Rec Leave after Sick Leave).
SK then tracked down the then Postal Manager at Potts Point Post Office, 'My'. She was at the time working at Mascot Post Office! SK explained what's been happening to My and she in turn spoke to Mary at Area Management (Balmain). An alternative was worked out - that she could take Leave Without Pay, instead of LSL, and send this request to them, to the attention of Jim Berrell or Nora Avila.
Now during the heavy going back in May, PH searched all over the country for the best urogynaecologist in Australia, and finally had success in finding Associate Professor Kate Moore. Coincidentally she happens to be connected to St George Hospital. But as expected she is pretty hard to see, being heavily involved in research and travels a lot overseas. So the best SK could do was get an appointment 2 months later, on 19 July.
As it turned out, it was lucky SK had that appointment, because the other major reason for seeing Prof Moore was that we needed her to back off the AP attack dogs. SK was being hounded by them to the point of nervous breakdown. All kinds of demands, all kinds of rejections, mainly conveyed through unnerving phone calls (the apparent letter rejecting LSL leave from 21/7 lost in the Australia Post mail system - requests for copies ignored) - "...it's a regulation set in stone, you can't take Long Service Leave (from 21/7) after Recreation Leave (30/6 - 20/7) and Sick Leave (to 29/6)...". Then when an alternative is worked out, viz., Leave Without Pay, instead of LSL - a few days later, another phone call, "...you can't take LWP either (the goalposts have been moved again)... you've been ordered back to work!..." No exceptions can be made, no matter what you have been through - even though lots of exceptions get made to Australia Post regulations elsewhere in the organization all the time, e.g. dangerous workplaces.
In other words, SK needed a highly respected authority like Prof Moore to look at her case and confirm it was genuine that SK now needed to take LSL.
So SK went to see Prof Moore on 19 July (i.e. during the same week as the beginning of quibbling over her taking LSL). On examination Prof Moore suspected SK had an entirely new problem, 'Urethral Diverticulum'. She immediately ordered an MRI for the following day (20/7) and a followup appointment for 25 July. If confirmed that was going to mean the unbearable thought of more surgery. This worsened SK's mental distress even further.
On 20 July SK's Postal Manager, My phoned (from Mascot!) to say that LWP had not been approved after all, as mentioned. This news, straight after the previous day's events, just about tipped SK over the edge. SK explained the additional complication to My and it was agreed SK would update My further after the Prof Moore appointment (25/7).
On 25 July further tests were done at the consultation with Prof Moore. The results including the MRI revealed SK had periurethral scarring but no actual diverticulum. Furthermore, during the consultation we realized that following SK's visit last week Prof Moore had kindly gone to the additional trouble of taking SK's case history home and studied it over the weekend. That was amazing for such a busy professor.
Prof Moore gave her detailed expert advice and finally got SK into the home stretch to recovery.
See here for a copy of Prof Moore's report / support letter, and includes a directive for sick leave from 19 July to 29 July, and that SK take 3 months Long Service Leave (at half-pay extended to 6 months) i.e. from 1 August.
Straight after seeing Prof Moore SK updated My at Mascot post office. As per Prof Moore's report it was agreed that SK would send in this documentation.
So on 26 July (Tue) the new applicaton for LSL was sent in, with the proviso / authorization that if there was still a problem - they think Prof Moore has got her report all wrong, that SK has been having a ball since April, contact Professor Moore, direct.
We also stipulated that after all this additonal support from Prof Moore, if AP is still going to again reject SK's application for LSL, would they kindly ensure that the 'rejection reason' - along with what she has to do to be able to take her Long Service Leave entitlement - is put in writing and sent to her by Registered Post. Please, no more phone calls - they are distressing, there's too much confusion. And again, to complete our records, we asked AP to include a copy of the letter (apparently dated early July) rejecting SK's original application for LSL.
So what does AP do? They still go ahead and reject the LSL application. To add insult to injury AP still avoids putting anything in writing (supposedly to avoid legal liability). In spite of our express request for written notification they again use "My" (at Mascot PO), as an intermediary.
So on 1 August (Mon) 1/8 My phones to say its all still rejected - SK goes into meltdown over then next few days. So PH is forced to try a tactic that he intends AP will not be expecting (i.e. that instead they expect us to dance to their tune):
On 4 August (Thu) we send a letter (see here) to Ghaith Krayem (HR Manager) that doesn't mention having been notified by phone call through My of the rejection. What we do is move all the focus back to the original LSL application. And again formally asks for the reason why the appliation for LSL from 21/7 was rejected. But done in a way that shows clearly they are playing on SK's lack of opportunity to get an education and is thus struggling to cope, not helped by what she has been through.
The 4/8 letter seemed to have the desired effect, they must have now been concerned how this would all start looking in court. It forced AP to drop out "My" (never heard from her again) and started dealing with us direct.
Not before time, because by Friday morning (5/8) SK's nerves were shot, another tantrum, she was ready to walk out on the family. But luckily we soon realized our letter had arrived next day (Friday - same city mail is supposed to be delivered next day).
On that same Friday afternoon (5 August) SK took the phone call from Katrina Schmidtke (Ghaith's hatchetwoman).
And really after all that SK had been through, all the stuffing around by AP, if they were still going to use phones calls (and if he had been brought up properly by his parents) then it should have been Krayem, the HR Manager, not Schmidtke...
During the phone conversation, SK couldn't handle it anymore and passed the phone over to PH. Katrina pretended not to be aware of the yesterday's (4/8) letter or My's rejection phone of the previous Monday (1/8).
Now AP's new tactic became clear. Prof Moore's support letter, especially for 6 months LSL (at halfpay) was a big problem, they needed to weeken Prof Moore's authority and reputation.
They must have decided to try to suck us into taking a bite of Eve's apple. "Why don't you get Prof Moore to write out a certificite for more Sick Leave?". Then that would weaken Prof Moore's letter, they could later imply that Prof Moore is easily persuaded, and by changing her 26/7 opinion viz. 'SK being fit for work but after all she has been through needs a long holiday', to Sick Leave, Prof's original opinion is undermined.
And then of course AP could again bring up the point about not allowing LSL after Sick Leave.
So Schmidtke starts with, just calling to see if SK is aware she has sick leave left (of course SK knew that), and now Katrina wanted to clarify a few points. PH said why did't you say that in writing back in July, why do you people keep harassing SK with phone calls, etc.
At one point, this Schmidtke - who was pretending to just be trying to be helpful and understanding - reverted to her real self and started acting like a teacher with a pupil, and told PH not to talk over her, which she kept doing to PH.
Anyway, Schmidtke said she knew nothing of My's rejection phone call. Schmidtke continued lying and said LSL was not rejected. PH said that's the problem of not putting things in writing, everyone is saying different things (to us that is, but they are all on the same page in their strategy discussions at Strawberry Hills NSW head office).
So we finally got AP to put it in writing. And looking at Schmidtke's letter of 8 August you could see why they don't put things in writing. It is a dead give away how desperate they were to push getting additional Sick Leave from Prof Moore. The idea is repeated in her short letter about 5 times.
But neither us, nor Prof Moore, were that stupid. We just stayed honest, and with the facts, throughout the ordeal.
On 15/8 we let AP know that in no uncertain terms, and on 17/8 sent them a copy of Prof Moore's letter stating likewise.
And clearly, if not for the wording of our 4 August letter to Krayem they would have continued to let SK sweat until she slashed her wrists!
Now, as AP had not provided a copy of the letter stating the reason why the original LSL was rejected, and nor had they requested any further documentation, it would appear AP had no legal basis come the next fortnightly payday after 21/7 to have a situation where nothing was transferred to SK's bank account, to withhold her pay.
And indeed money did get transferred in - a full pay, the payslip generated and recieved in the mail indicated normal attendance at work. They didn't even record it as something like "in dispute, pay in lieu of..."
SK kept getting normal pays with payslips showing normal attendance as August wore on. How could AP put through normal pays them belatedly make a decision to approve the LSL (on 23/8), then reverse out the normal pay and start paying half-pay at a reduced amount for the overpayment. See copy of adjusting payslip here.
It would seem that if AP was not prepared to take the steps to make a decision one way or another back in July, when they finally approved LSL on 23 August, the 'normal' pays they put through covering workdays from 21/7 to 23/8 should have been treated as ex-gratia bonus payments separate to LSL payments. In other words, LSL should have started from the date they finally made the decision, they had no legal basis to wait that unreasonably extra time period.
Thus on 23 August we have the AP letter from Katrina Schmidtke, Human Resources Consultant - now approving LSL, though clearly grudgingly (seems she couldn't even bring herself to sign it, using a surrogate) retrospectively - starting from 1 August - and in effect, 'LSL is now approved, but you're due back in 2 months" i.e. deliberately coming up with a wrong return date, cutting the time period in half. Yet their letter stated "After reviewing all the information...careful consideration... exceptional circumstances ... detaled in your correspondence" Yet somehow they missed clear references (even in Prof Moore's support letter) to needing an extra long holdiday - LSL at halfpay over 6 months!
With all the AP callous games and nastiness, so much for the original intention of being able to take a 6 monthts holiday to forget all about AP and health problems, as supported by Prof Moore.
Using the AP logic / method, they could have kept SK on tenterhooks for 6 months - keep putting through full pays, then finally a letter, "Good news, your LSL at hal-pay is approved., Bad news, you're due back tomorrow. And since we have been paying you at full pay for 6 months you owe us half of that back." And when she rolls up for work, she gets told (like PH was) before you go out on the counter you have to go and front up to some people at head office and signoff on the non-work related, authorize medical record access etc. And of course she is now blacklisted from any chance of promotion or favourable transfer.
24 October (Mon) - As SK was a mental wreck about her pending return to work - tantrums, schizoprenia... PH boldly sends a letter to the top - to Graeme John, Managing Director of Australia Post (see copy here). Letter sent registered post (RD 24342876) - expected to arrive 26/10
26 October (Wed) - An immediate reponse - what's being deliberately dragged out for months, is now getting fixed in hours.
Peter Dodson phones (late morning). Dobson's title is not clear, his later letter blatantly left it out, there was some indication that he is a HR Manager, but that is supposed to be Ghaith Krayem. SK breaksdown on phone - Dodson ready to offer the world: extending SK's leave - using '06 Rec Leave, and even 12 months Leave Without Pay. SK said she was thinking of part-time especially the prized morning shift (so you have the whole rest of the day free). It seems at this point if she had mentioned a payout 'package' she would have got it. Dodson says he will take care of everything. (And gives SK the name and phone number of AP mental health counsellor.) "If you need anything just call me, I'm your man, just call me on 9202 6665"
27 October (Thu) - Stranglely Dodson phones again (late afternoon 4:50pm) - says he's fixing everything and has calculated correct return date from LSL should be December (astounding, he's still a month out!) SK is more composed in this call.
28 October (Fri): New or Acting-PM at Potts Point PO phones (Emily 'someone') - she abuses SK "Where are you? You are due back at work today!" Dodson hasn't even bothered to inform Potts Point et al to arrange a replacement. SK explains about Dodson, this person says he is the HR Manager (but that's supposed to be Ghaith Krayem).
31 October (Mon) - received letter from Dodson, sent Express and dated 27 Oct. Thu, see here) - either Australia Post Express is late again or Dodson held the letter over until the 28th, Fri. Strangely signed with no title - complete turnaround from first phone call - blames us for LSL error - offering nothing (not even a 7-day holiday to Melbourne or better still a couple of movie tickets!) - expects us to jump at part-time anywhere. And a similarly spartan letter to PH on behalf of Graeme John.
AP in this letter were not even prepared to comment on heavily pregnant women on the counter getting some sitdown time, nor an apology or assurances that it was a one-off, and/or that it will never happen to another woman.
Remembering that the original request was sent 28/6 it took 3 months to get the LSL, grudgingly, properly approved.
Evidence of AP panic
Dodson had mentioned in the phone conversation something about a report going to Melbourne, indicating they were quite concerned.
Now we know that given how quickly they went into damage control mode i.e., as soon as Melbourne got the letter, within hours Dodson was on the phone to SK
So it almost seems - given the content and threats in PH's letter) going far beyond SK's situation - they decided on Wednesday afternoon and most of Thursday 27 Oct. to phone SK late at 4:50pm again - feel her out (remember she was more composed).
Then it's like they decided to back off and see if they can get away with only correcting the return date - see Dodson's eventual letter here. That is, see if PH would be happy to leave it at that, because his partner (SK) is suddenly and miraculously fine, all SK's angst, tantrums and schizoprenia will now disappear forever, simply because the LSL return has been corrected. Nonsense.
The send date could well be a giveaway.
As mentioned above, unless Express was slow, Dodson's letter dated the 27th was sent on the 28th. But what if they had a completely different letter drafted on the 27th Thursday, then made the phone call late that afternoon - SK seemed more composed and malleable, then next day (Friday) went with the new wording.
Remembering, too in the phone conversation late Thursday Dodson was talking about a new, yet wrong return date in December. Yet the letter dated that day (27th) has the correct January return date. The date must have been correctly determined on Friday.
What probably happened was the more conciliatory letter was set to go on Thursday, then on Friday Micro$oft Word has been booted up, the original wording below "Dear... deleted and the new "give 'em nothing" wording put in, but changing the date was overlooked.
And the impetus may well have been instructions from Melbourne - after they looked at their report on the whole mess Friday morning. Because Dodson did say in the phone call to SK something about a report going to Melbourne.
Was the strategy changed because they now felt in control again? Or because there is way too much legal liability this time? Wait to see what Hogan does, he may go away now. If he doesn't, and tries to retaliate ... well, we subcontract that work too. (Only one problem, even if PH has a heart attack, he has it set so that the story still comes out on various websites on various servers around planet Earth.)
4 November (Fri) - Schmidtke phones, not Dodson (where is the man who said "If you need anything just call me, I'm your man"). She says "Where is SK's letter rushing to take part-time work?". SK says that really, she just wants to go find a sitdown job somewhere rather than increase the risk of prolapse recurring, so asks about the possibility of a 'package'.
11 November - a smug letter from Katrina Schmidtke to reiterate the give 'em nothing strategy.
So in effect after all that's happened instead of AP considering somekind of extra payout / compensation re SK they are jumping on the part-time factor and looking to come out gaining money from SK
Where does all this leave SK?
The opportunity for a long hassle-free holiday is gone. Blacklisted, career ruined at AP. Coupled with the increased risk of prolapse recurring if still working and lifting behind a counter, she feels the pressure to find a sitdown job outside AP, after 11 years service, but has few qualifications. All because AP has been grossly callous and negligent - from being a major cause of the prolapse, to then the downright nastiness of not allowing due and entitled LSL.
It has to be emphasized, there's only one thing worse than experiencing what SK went through: As the victim's partner, it's seeing that catheter stuck in there. It was all causing SK to fall apart, not helped by the fact that AP personnel managers are programmed to treat the whole thing as trivial. Then there is the impact on the victim's family, on our toddler.
And SK's hysterical, schizophrenic behaviour continues.
As a result we have been forced to use money set aside for even a short holiday, to sign her up to an expensive Gym, Fitness First.
If nothing else it's all Bad Karma - maybe one day, one of the AP players in this fiasco, or one of their loved-ones, will go through the prolapse-urine retention-catheter experience, and will suddenly feel like they are cursed for what they did to us.
It's a pathetic coincidence that in '03 Graeme John gets the AO award, SK gets prolpase.
Damages Calculation = $2 million
Compensatory and punitive damages calculation is as follows:
AP stopped SK's career in its tracks at age 35. Still had say 25 years of productive salary earning power.
SK's career at AP indicates she could have averaged $40,000 p.a.
Thus compensatory damages at 25 x $40,000 = $1 million
Plus punitive damages.
Here we particularly taking account the effect on our family - AP's bullying almost literally destroyed our family with SK's constant tantrums and schizoprenic mood swings.
It's important to note, that all throughout the ordeal PH has had to try to steal minutes here and there trying to keep SK's health / mood under control, researching SK's problems. Finding and dealing with specialists (literally had to do a crash course in uro-gynecology - indeed Prof Moore spoke to PH like a fellow professional after reading the report he prepared for her).
Scribbling notes on the case on pieces of paper, looking after our toddler all the while... Then transcribing and editing those notes onto the computer late at night when everyone is sleeping or watching TV.
It's not a situation where SK says "you work on the brief for the lawyers. I'll support you". She doesn't even like the idea of lawyers, she thinks it's a waste of time, "Your stupid lawyers won't help you, they're a waste of time, bums like you with no job can't hurt Australia Post...". In other words, the family should just accept Graeme John's AP bullying, and that means also her continuing tantrums, mainly about money for her bloodsuckers.
(An example, 10/12/05 - we now have SK going to an expensive Gym every morning, 7 days a week, to reduce tantrums - late morning - PH finishes household morning chores - takes toddler with pram out to do shopping - we run into SK down the street, she chucks a tantrum over something petty - she eventually comes with us - gets herself 2 Indian videos to watch as soon as she gets home - PH has to take our toddler out again to get her to sleep - pushing a full pram around with a 16 Kg toddler and shopping - that evening, after PH mows the lawns, comes inside, SK chucks another tantrum, about money - she goes off in a huff to bed at 8:00 pm...)
So it's taken months to put this brief together.
And all that when PH himself has developed a painful and scary inguinal hernia (probably caused by standing and lifing at AP and pushing the heavy pram around) which will require surgery, but he cannot seek treatment because of SK's instability.
So say another million for punitive, brings total damages to around $2 million.
Remembering the settlement after legal fees would be spread around not-for-profit organizations currently being developed by PH.
When things settle down, and our financial situation allows, we would then get SK to professional services to deal with mental health issues, self-esteem, and more confidence building activities (in addition to Gym).
2) My case, Peter Hogan v AP
Damages settlement for ruined career
Compensatory and punitive damages estimated to be around $3 million - see calculation below.
Kind of an 'unfair dismissal' case. PH had potential to move up in Administration or Marketing (there's not much competition in AP!) - had produced an impressive marketing flyer, etc.
All short-circuited for complaining about a dangerous workplace - as mentioned above, working in that same post office, in a building that had been turned into a construction site, and no air-conditoning, to boot. PH complains - starts warning the public, then gets hauled into the Area Manager's office (Dennis Killeen), all kinds of threats - career ruined - PH promptly resigned (in February '03).
AP screwed both parents...
This leads us to a key point in our family's case against AP - they screwed both parents. How much damage does AP want to do to one family - including the effect on our toddler of a mother in hospital, and a mother throwing tantrums all the time, mainly about our financial position and outlook? It's not like the other partner has a good job in some other corporation, so we can handle one parent being blacklisted in the workforce. We were both in AP. They have been executing their standard routine to ruin both our careers.
Anyway, for PH the 'Graeme John Shafting Doctrine' played out like this:
PH was carrying out duties way above a normal counter worker, using his business and computer background.
When Emma Lintern said we had to cut costs to offset high rent (Dennis Killeen's fault) PH spent hours at home developing a mail drop flyer to help rent out a huge number of unrented PO boxes, to let residents and tourists know where the new location was (something AP didn't do - no signs, nothing - tourists just went into a City PO) and to let consumers know about AP services. Killen was impressed with the flyer, but as it turned out, it was probably embarrassing that a counter worker was producing work that should be done by executives on fat salaries. (Suspiciously, elements of the flyer did turn up a short time later in a promotion put out by them.)
It was designed to be simple, cheap and easy to produce (even on a photocopier) and modify for other post offices as a Word doc. file - 3 per A4 page, double-sided copying, see front here and back here.
And tried to educate the post office PM and supervisor on 'contribution margins by product' - push products / better shop floor placement, with higher contribution margins to increase overall profitability - PH mapped out the whole shop floor by product using hypertext / webpages...
Alan Irfandi (a fellow, but sometime, counter-worker), the guy who was running his own private business from the back-office, even if SK was pregnant - soon utilized Ph's expertise. He at one point had PH doing supporting financial statements for his tax return on the back computer, with the blessing of Hatim the supervisor. And he kept pestering PH to do other private jobs for him out there, while counter staff had a line out the door.
Then the recontruction, the noise, almost like bombs - as huge objects dropped on the ceiling, the fumes - at one point a customer came up to PH at the counter and dead serious said "you know there are dangerous fumes in the air?!" - then the air conditioning goes. The management and landlord pretend to be getting it fixed (don't know why AP just didn't withhold rent till it was fixed!). Staff and customers sweating like pigs to the point of nausea, almost fainting. But no complaints - too intimidated. PH brought in an electric fan to position behind the counter - other staff (like Pat) would used it, but no-one else would dare bring one in.
From the discerning customer viewpoint we were like caged animals in a laboratory, scientists were carrying out an experiment to see how we would react, how long before a guinea pig dies...
Other tenants, viz. the Council's Library, Community Centre and Convenience Store, moved out and/or sued.
(After about a year of this, and long after PH was forced out, other staff were pressured to sign an agreement accepting $300 compensation with no further claims against AP.)
At one point PH walked off the counter to confront Emma in her office and found out she was not even a member of the union. Obviously, being given a second chance at being a PM, she was not taking any chances by doing some real complaining. Looking after the interests and health of her staff stopped there.
So it was clear that no senior management at AP cared about what was happening to lowly Post Office workers in that construction site.
PH had already set up an Internet Directory website (Kings Cross Onlne mentioned above) for the area (started in Sept '00). At first PH was promoting Potts Point Post Office and AP services generally, providing easy to find information that AP was failing to do - see that original "promoting AP" version here.
And it did attract a lot of new customers, especially tourists that found it in Internet Cafes, that otherwise would have gone elsewhere. So PH was helping to increase revenues - over about a 2 year period ('01 & '02) to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars for AP, with free and effective advertising for AP.
But it soon became wrong to attract people to a post office that was dangerous and had no air-conditioning. Indeed AP should have had a warning on the door for customers, especially on hot days with long lines, especially for the elderly. A serious injury could have occurred at any time.
So PH felt a duty to at least warn the public by using his Kings Cross Online - see that "warning" version here. The change was made at the end of '02. So effective is the KXOL website (through the power of Google ranking) in getting a message out, that it soon came to the attention of AP top management. But they were smart. First, out of the blue, there was suddenly engineers everywhere in our post office, and they ended up fixing the airconditioning quite quickly - turned out to be a minor problem. And then, immediately after, AP's attack dogs could now go ahead and take care of PH.
On OH&S (Occupational Health and Safety), that AP makes a big deal out of, but is all window dressing - if OH&S had worked properly there should have been a poster on the staff kitchen wall giving a phone number to contact. At one point PH went to Hatim (the supervisor) and asked for the AP internal phone directory to try to find the OHS number to no avail and / or the relevent Human Resources section (in AP it should be called Animal Resources!). AP deliberately has a phone directory that is not a directory.
Part of the privatization by stealth was to subcontract much of the personnel department. For instance, if a postal worker has a problem with their pay, they have to contact some obscure outfit called "Shared Services".
Talk about shoot the messenger. If PH had not forced AP to get the air conditioning fixed there could have been a serious incident - a colleague or customer. having a heart attack, or fainting and having a heavy fall. PH served one customer, an elderly gentleman who had been in a long line - by the time he reached the counter he was literally dripping wet, sweat pouring down his face - and this man did't complain he just paid his bill and quietly left (who knows maybe he had a heart attack on the way home) - PH thought of his father being put in that position. What animals.
Did PH get a pat on the back, a medal? An apology for the shortcomings of senior management, of OH&S at Australia Post...
PH got pulverized for having the audacity to care about his fellow Australians. How dare he put a dent in AP's profits through having to fix the air conditioning, and jeopardize Mr John's $2-300,000 bonus.
The question is : 'Does Australian society have in place laws that punish bullies who intimidate and ruin the careers individuals who try to protect the health of fellow Australians?' Was Graeme John breaking any laws or is this kind of behaviour condoned (and now encouraged by John Howard) in Australia? If you are powerful and connected like Mr Graeme John are you above our laws?
So it was now very difficult for PH to find work outside of AP.
After being forced out of AP in February '03, ended up becoming a House-Dad to Tara who is now 3. Since becoming a House-Dad not only had to endure the impact of ruined career but the constant abuse of my partner, who is happy that women's liberation has meant more and better paying jobs for women, but it doesn't go both ways, if the father stays at home to raise his daughter, he is a bum. Even when PH has set up the situation that we are living rent free at his parent's place.
In addition to her constant tantrums PH not only had to deal with impact of the post-surgery complications but because of the mess of the health system - indeed there is probably a case for negligence / malpractice on the part of the hospital and several doctors - had to do a crash course in urogynaecolgy, and get her problem fixed. (Thus it was because PH was home that he could do a crash course in Urogynae. to work through the prolapse / urine retention mess, which was going nowhere, effectively saving her life.) See more details here.
To top it all off PH has also developed a hernia (inguinal) no doubt not helped by standing and lifting behind a Post Office counter for 3 years in his mid 40s. Not surprisingly PH is caught between a rock and a hard place - what we've been going through with the current mess, lack of support from a mentally unstable partner, recent news reports confirming 1 in 5 operations result in infection or other post-surgery complicaitons (November '06 produced by Medibank Private). The worsening hernia remains untreated.
PH Damages Calculation = $3 million
Compensatory and punitive damages calculation is as follows:
AP stopped PH's career in its tracks at age 46. Still had say 20 years of productive salary earning power.
As mentioned above, PH's career to date indicates could have averaged $100,000 p.a.
Thus compensatory damages at 20 x $100,000 = $2 million plus punitive damages, say another million, brings total damages to around $3 million.
Remembering the settlement after legal fees would be spread around not-for-profit organizations currently being developed by PH.
For more about Peter Hogan just Google "Peter Sydney" (even though there are a lot of Peter's in Sydney, that's the popularity of his website) or click straight to the PH bio. webpage here.
3) Other AP staff collectively / class action - at least symbolically
Obviously other AP workers are too scared to really take part in a class action (though if we have success with other cases some might be interested).
So damages symbolically go to Australians collectively through a yet to be set up not-for-profit organization called the "Pelvic Floor Care Foundation" (started setting up here). They will have a charter to educate young Australians on the character of the forgotten Billjims as exemplified by the spirit of the Australian Light Horsemen.
As more proof (i.e. in addition to the points mentioned above) of how dangerous the Kings Cross area is, and the extent to which AP is happy to endanger staff, some examples:
- Generally, most of the jobs in AP are inhherently dangerous because there is so much standing and lifting, resulting in hernias, varicose veins, back problems, etc.
It's the classic case of what the Japanese call the "3Ks" (san K) which conveniently translates into English as the "3Ds" - kitanai = dirty, kitsui = difficult, kigen = dangerous. And they actually import Filipinos or South Americans with Japanese ancestry to do it. In Australia we just use the lower classes and the 'down on their lucks'...
- The dangers of letter / parcel bombs.
- Stealing mail from resident mail boxes inn the Kings Cross / 2011 postcode area, is probably the worst in Australia, because of the high concentration of drug addicts and other desperates. They were even stealing from Posties hand-pushed mail buggies (when they left them on the street to enter a building). What does AP do? No expensive locking buggies. No, the Posties are forced to trade-in their buggies for backpacks, up to 16 Kg, which they haul around this hilly area. PH knows only too well from personal experience from working at AP, how easy it is to develop an inguinal hernia, especially when you get into your late 40s.
- There's a big emphasis on confronting shooplifters, probably costs AP millions of dollars a year. So there you are, getting paid part-time peanuts in Kings Cross, and they expect you to bail up some psycho, who will probably stab you with an AIDs infected syringe!
- AP is making millions of dollars by takinng over more and more of bank teller duties. But the difference is that bank staff get bullet-proof glass. And in an extra dangerous area like Kings Cross, lots of projectile come over the counter, including a pen flicked in SK's face, just missing her eye, by a regular customer with an obvious violent history.
And just as with shoplifters, they expect part-timers, if they find themselves being robbed - with no glass protection - to also press the alarm button under the counter. That wouldn't upset the robber would it?!
- When PH first started at AP back in '00, they were experiencing a problems from some company offering consumers an alternative and cheaper way to send greeting cards overseas. The "City Convenience Store" chain was part of it. There was one near our post office. AP wanted someone to go and buy one of these generic stamps and find out how it all worked. So they pressured PH, a lowly part-timer, to do it, pretending to be a tourist. Why not use one of their own professional private detectives?. PH used to go to this store regularly, at the time he lived nearby as well, the staff at the store knew him. There was even the possibility that PH would be called as a witness in any court case... Australia Post without hesitation put PH in a position where this mob could have taken revenge out on PH. Could never go to that shop again to buy a drink or food.
- A lot of money was spent on renovating thhe new location back in '00. A huge space to showcase AP. But what about a staff toilet?! Why would you need one of those, they can just hold it for 8 hours. Staff were expected to trudge around to the Rex Hotel to a single toilet that was often engaged, not good if you are pregnant or have an upset stomach. Sometimes PH would go around to the Library toilets and take his chances with the drug addicts and homeless there, until one of them over-dosed in a cubicle. About 4 years later when AP privately admitted to the original stuff-up, and halved the size of the rented space, reducing it to a typical tiny, cluttered post office, they finally put in a staff toilet.
- And of course, so many women work behind post office counter (usually more than half are women) so much standing and lifting, so little care for the Pelvic Floor. Not even stools that swing under the counter.
The AP Promotion System
If you try to buck the system, there will be subtle 'repercussions' - ostracism - no promotion. The supervisor at Potts Point is always telling the story of how when he was at Broadway Post Office in the city, the PM there was embezzling money from Australia Post. He reported her. She got promoted. His career came to a halt, though he is the defacto postal manager of Potts Point, but without the influence and ranking to be able to properly look after staff. Ergo Potts Point's official PM during this '05 crisis works out of another post office, over at Mascot - makes you really feel looked after!
4) Express / Courier mail rip off of Australian People - Trade Practices Act Violations
Compensaton for Australian people collectively / class action, at least symbolically.
The Australian people are being ripped off in Trade Practice Act violations on express /courier products to the tune of millions of dollars each year. An independent study / sampling would confirm this scam. There's a very good chance that such a test would show that a heck of a lot of so-called "Guaranteed Next Day Delivery" in reality takes 2 days. It could be as high as 20% - especially when it goes to another capital city. That's a lot of extra revenue, and AP has their system set up so that complaints aren't feasible.
It's just plain deliberate, false and misleading advertising.
Damages symbolically go to Australians collectively through a yet to be set up not-for-profit organization, which could promote the deeds of the Billjims. The organization would have a charter to educate young Australians, on the character of the forgotten Billjims as exemplified by the spirit of the Australian Light Horsemen.
The main rip-off here is sending something Express in the same capital city. What most consumers don't realize is that the majority of ordinary mail will get there next day, anyway. So AP is sucking consumers into paying an extra $3.50 plus (depending on weight and size, starting with basic 50c postage).
And when they bandy around statistics about 95% on-time for letters, first they probably use 1 to 2 days for same city. And that applies to a lot of Express mail. AP plays on the apathy of consumers. They know few will take them up on the "guarantee" - the refund or replacement envelope if it doesn't arrive nextday. Usually it is the receiver who is disadvantaged, but only the sender can make the claim. The receiver often doesn't have proof of the send date. The reciever is unlikely to phone up the sender to complain. The sender doesn't really care, often they just want to impress the receiver that they treated it as a priority.
It's not like the guarantee situation for other products and services, where the buyer can clearly see whether or not they have got what they paid for.
Just a simple example. In the nasty game AP has been playing with us, on 2 occassions there was a clear obligation on their part to send documents Express, from AP's Headquarters for NSW at nearby Strawberry Hills. Both these items were received 2 days after the apparent send date. And nobody was interested in putting a date stamp (when lodged over the post office counter) on the front of the envelope, which is what should always happen.
See the Express envelope - sent Friday 11 November '05 (see letter here). We received it on Tuesday 15 November '05
PH since working in a post office has out of curiosity always noted 'receive date' and apparent 'send date' - quite often it's taken 2 days.
PH worked on a PO counter for 3 years not once did he get someone complaining about Express taking 2 days. SK, 11 years experience, said she wouldn't even know how to deal with such a customer.
If a consumer does want to lodge a claim / complaint - to take AP up on the guarantee - it's a deliberately cumbersome process to get the measly replacement envelope or $4+ refund (note here: the back of the Express envelope only mentions a replacement, not refund, but AP customer service told PH that you can get a money order refund instead) - apart from the time involved in gathering relevant information, express reference number (often forgotten or not peeled off the envelope), send and receive dates - then it's probably a phone call to the AP customer service 131318, where you press various numbers then get put on hold for 10 minutes, all to find out how to lodge the claim (the back of the envelope information just happens to leave that out) - then roll up to a post office - probably a long line - get to the counter - get a complicated "Complaint Form" - go away and fill it out (you need a triple university degree for this part, most staff don't know how to fill them out either) then try to get back to that counter, without being abused for line-jumping (that's if you brought all your information, otherwise gotta come back again) - then the form gets sent away for someone to check how long it took (that could be done on the counter, but most staff won't waste the time making the phone call) - some weeks later the sender gets a replacement - or because they didn't need a another Express envelope and they requested a refund, they get sent a money order for $4+ - then it's off to a post office to cash the money order - total time spent on getting $4+? Probably over 3 hours. Most consumers already know it's not going to be worth the bother, the ones that have a go, after going through all that will never do it again. Who loses in this process? The consumer - they're literally being tortured and bullied. Who wins? Graeme John - the bully.
An even better, fast and simple test. Your law firm must use Express often - think of your own experience, or go ask support staff. Perhaps like a lot of firms, you have had so many let downs, you don't even trust Australia Post anymore.
And there is the giveaway - if AP is complying with the Trade Practices Act, if over 95% of items are being delivered as per the "guarantee" (and those that arrive late are being compensated), if they have a great reputation for that kind of speed, then ... why do so many firms use private couriers - the Yellow Pages are full of them?!
Now we come to a very intriguing paradox...
As part of the ongoing "Privatization by Stealth" program, AP is already transferring a big chunk of the Express / Courier market to big business.
The Express / Courier industry knows about AP's shortcomings - late delivery - why don't they advertise the fact more? ...
Because they are in bed with AP - collusion (or they just play on AP's ineptness). With some vigorous investigation, just to what extent are there traces of collusion in the express / courier business. For starters Graeme John, the Managing Director of Australia Post, according to their website is a "director and alternative chairman of Australian Air Express and Star Track Express [another joint venture between AP and Qantas]..." Do a bunch of these guys ever happen to run into each other at a club on the same night?
The deal is, AP maintains an unreliable Express / Courier service, so the bulk of business customers use private couriers.
Mainly leaving the ignorant plebs to use AP, and often not get the service that they paid extra for, and AP knows it.
The result, a transfer of public money to big biz.
So clearly, if nothing else - even if we have to pressure consumer advocate departments to get involved, which would hopefully result in media exposure - we need to force AP to make the whole process, user friendly - tracking on the internet, the monitoring of lodgement to destination; and the claims process - allow the receiver to make a claim - both sender and receiver should be compensated. Depending on the situation the penalty / compensation should be more than a refund. And there must be a lodged date (into AP) stamped clearly on the outside of the item to be able to check if it was delivered nextday or not. The only way to do that properly is for Yellow Express Boxes on the street, and post offices to have date stamp machines. No lodge date stamp should automatically mean a penalty equivalent to the Express post cost. And AP should be forced to breakdown their spurious "on-time delivery" stats, to include Express Post, and by destination (especially the far away ones). And just what on-time means - how many days, by destination and category.
If all that was forced on AP, and the public was better educated, it would wipe out tens of millions of dollars from AP's $525 million profit. Instead of that money going to Costello's Treasury, it would stay in the pocket of the Australian battler.
It's interesting to note a litte "Stop Press" - a curious coincidence that after PH sent his letter to Graeme John in October, that mentioned the "Express Next Day Delivery" scam (see here), in December PH noticed a TV commercial for an Australia Post product - just happened to be for Express - the slogan: "Simply Fast". Are they trying to get some of the focus and misleading advertising away from Next Day Delivery to Simply Fast.
Parcel Delivery Fiasco - Subcontracting
The other big factor with non-letter items, i.e. parcels, is that delivery of these items is now subcontracted outside of AP. Most of the general public don't know about that change, it's part of the privatiation by stealth program. If the contractor can't deliver the parcel, then they are supposed to leave a small slip telling the receiver to pick up from the designated PO (sometimes there are further complications if the receiver is located near two POs). The name they write on the slip is supposed to be the name circled on the parcel (which is used by the PO for storing the parcel alphabetically).
AP doesn't seem to talk much about how many people, get parcels very late or never at all (some don't even know one was sent). This can be because they never got the first slip from the contractor or the PO is slack with reminder-carding.
Many of these subcontractors do not speak English as a first language, have poor English reading ability, and are not properly trained in the western / Australian addressing system.
PH remembers one incident where a customer, call them "J. Citizen", came into the PO with the slip but we couldn't find the parcel in the "C" section. A long time later a full search found the parcel under "S", because the subcontractor had circled "Street" and not the surname. Another time the item was under "E" because the subcontractor circled "Esq."
There was also the rumor that one inept subcontractor finally got the boot, when he was investigated for so many lost parcels. They found his garage at home was full of them. So the subcontractor if they are getting behind or just want to finish early, can just go straight ot the PO with a stack of parcels, or chuck the odd one in the garbage.
Talk to any experienced Postie and they will tell you that the receiver would have a much better chance of getting their parcel and it would be faster, if they were still doing it.
So again consumers are paying postage for a service not performed.
AP will tell people - especailly for internatinal mail to insure the item, but that just becomes another revenue spinner.
Delivery to Security Block Apartments
Again, a sampling would confirm that it is even more of a waste of money paying extra for Express delivery of parcels to security apartments. Usually subcontractors don't have keys. Only AP Posties do, but they only deliver letters now. Some contractors won't evem bother to try to press a button, and will just take their stack of parcels straight to the nearest Post Office.
And all this leads to another paradox - AP makes more profit by maintaining shoddiness through inept subcontractors and un-motivated staff. Just as car-makers make their profit from the 'extras' luxury end, so does AP from Express, Courier, Registered and Insured. They can actually play-on and take advantage of the unreliability of sending at minimum / standard cost. So ineffect it's not in AP's interest to ever get the reputation for reliable delivery.
Express Damages Calculation
After we obtain a representative sample study of what percentage of Express mail is arriving late, we can get a more accurate idea of how much extra revenue AP generates, i.e. the difference between express and normal deliveryt cost. Taking into account an idea of what percentage of senders make a claim (remembering receivers can't claim).
The rip-off revenue has to be a big chunk of AP's $4 billion revenue.
As mentioned above the settlement would go to a not-for-profit organization.
5) Discrimination - Graeme John's Christian Religion Stamp Bias
Graeme John's christian religion stamps
Compensaton for the Australian people collectively / class action, at least symbolically - regarding discrimination by only offering Christian / Christmas Stamps - at a time when a blatant WASP racist like Prime Minister John Howard is even trying to show he is reaching out to non-christian groups of the Australia's multicultural society.
Damages symbolically go to Australians of all backgrounds collectively through a yet to be set up non-profit organization called "Civilization Time". It will have a charter to be a flagship for multiculturalism. Thus any settlement won in this area would go towards a documentary on Civilization Time, explained here, with a big emphasis on exposing plagiarism by church hierarchy. It's even more pathetic that AP favours the christian religion on festice season stamps when the whole tradition of christmas has been lifted from much older pagan festivals including Saturnalia.
If copyright law went back more than the very convenient 50 years (for western countries) the christian church hierarchy, and its accomplices like Graeme John, would be in deep trouble, not least for hypocrisy when it comes to stealing.
PH, though a lowly PSO (Postal Services Office = counter worker) was actually sent to a product / marketing seminar at AP's NSW Headqarters at Strawberry Hills by Hatim, the supervisor / acting-PM (probably because of PH's extra-curricular duties). They were talking about ideas for stamp design. During the tea break, PH purposefully raised this stamp fiasco. This sychophant didn't hesitate to say, "That's Graeme John, he expressly orders only christian religion designs in stamps" for the festive season.
If you are non-religious / non-christian and you want to send a card at this time of the year you get a choice between Graeme John's christian stamps, or, Graeme John's christian stamps.
All the news reports, ASIO / Federal Police - the Prime Minister John Howard "Us v Them" provocation - raids - Arab Australians vs Non-Arab Australians fighting each other in our streets - e.g. race violence in Cronulla, Brighton and Maroubra in mid December '05 - and the Managing Director of Australia Post, Mr Graeme John, throws more petrol on the fire, issuing only christian religion stamps again in '2005. Clearly under the letter of the sedition laws that everyone is talking about - Graeme John is doing his best to exacerbate the situation to incite violence - he is as guilty as anyone bashing a fellow Australian in Cronulla, the only difference being, 'connected' Australians like Graeme John are above the law - or if ever found guilty, it's a slap on the wrists with a wet lettuce leaf, whereas plebs go to prison for 10 years.
Even an advanced western country, with a powerful christian right wing, viz., the U.S.A., does a lot more to be 'inclusive'. In the U.S., community leaders and high profile organizaitons encourage the use of terms like "Happy Holidays" and even "Holiday Tree". In a less religious oriented Australia, Graeme John should be issuing less racially provocative stamp designs. US Post certainly offers more variety in festive season stamps.
This isn't just a simple anti-discrimination case where we ask John to fix the oversight. It's willful bigotry, being encouraged at the top of what should be a model organization...
Festive season stamps - that also go on internatinal greeting cards - are very emblematic, very similar to a Nation's flag.
It's Graeme John boasting we are a racist country. Graeme John waving a red flag at a bull.
Enough is enough, by the time the '06 summer solstice comes around, surely somebody will help us do something to get Graeme John the boot, and a new head of Australia's postal system, who orders "all inclusive stamp designs". Even forget the snow stuff - Hello! We live in the southern hemisphere.
How about stamp designs with Aussies on a beach not beating each others brain out - over why Prime Minister John Howard has some lower class family's Billjim father or husband (where are the Howard / rich kids) in Iraq, and not Brazil or Sweden or South Africa or 150 other major countries, and why aren't we also invading North Korea or Zimbabwee and 149 other countries, with deluded political leaders...
From the AP website
Continuing with the theme of recent years the 2005 Christmas stamp issue once again depicts a traditional Christmas story - Issue Date: 1 November 2005...
...this years issue celebrates Christmas with serene joy and peace. The two stamps for 2005 show the Madonna and Child (45c concession card rate) and an Angel in a gesture of adoration before the Christ Child ($1 International Post)"
Click for the Australia Post December '05 Stamp Bulletin
'Stamp Collector' suck-in of young Australians
As Hatim, with years of experience noted when PH first started:
Encouraging stamp collecting is a pure cash generator - target kids from an early age to collect - the majority of these stamps will stay worthless in years to come - they will probably never be used. So in effect AP doesn't have to perform a service for the price of the stamp. Here AP is ripping off innocent Australian children. So AP is always on the look out for good ideas for stamp design, thus things like Olympic Games gold medal winners are a way for AP to make money out of other young Australians hard work and years of training. They should be made to pay a royalty from the sales to such athletes, et al!
Too bad Graeme John doesn't get some stamp design
ideas from the Children's Cancer Institute Australia
(A Sun-Herald insert 11 December '05)
If legal action not feasible, then we go to Consumer Advocated Groups and the Media
Obviously if legal action is not possible, PH will get the story our via consumer groups; TV: the quintessential, hard-hitting, Aussie Battler's Today Tonight; and newspapers: The Age - through a connection to senior journalist Jane Sullivan who has already given his work significant exposure (see here); and the Internet. Here PH has a headstart with a highly Google sensitive website that he owns, viz, Kings Cross Online - kxol.com.au as detailed above.
More proof of this little paradox? Just Google Great Australians and check the amazing coinicidence - following various correspondence with Victorian Premier Steve Bracks and Melbourne Lord Mayor John So, within weeks of my confirming the snub of her husband to Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at Cruden Farm, and at the age of 96, after decades, more than half a century of philanthropic work in Melbourne, she is suddenly awarded Victorian of the Year. And you will notice the shared empathy with the Billjim / Australian Light Horse - 'they' even dug up someone connected to the Light Horse, a Sgt Gary Chandler, and awarded him Local Achiever of the Year. Of course it had nothing to with my well documented efforts to get proper recognition for the Murdoch family for their contribution to Australian society.
We will also be pushing the ACCC and lobbying politicians / Government, even running for a Senate or House of Representatives seat in the '07 Election. We had considerable success mounting the Peter Hogan : Independent for the Senate - "A Safer Australia" Campaign in Election '04 given the limited time and resources, but still made an elite selection of candidates as determined by the NLA's unbiased guidelines.
So at the very least, for posterity - Australian history and sociology, we will be putting together an ever growing comprehensive and authoritative record of Graeme John's term as head of Postal Service. A lot more people in the future will know about the real Graeme John, including his descendants. And we will eventually put together a proper book and documentary (maybe using university film school undergraduates):
"Australia's Mail Bully - Graeme John"
In summary, we go through all that has been detailed above, and finally out of desperation we go all the way to the top, with a Registered Letter to Graeme John, the illustrious Managing Director of Australia Post himself, with a list of serious concerns and what do we get, (unofficially panic - see above) officially a flimsy letter from a man with no title, from Australia's oldest most important role model organization.
If AP had just approved the original application for Long Service Leave lodged back in June we would have all gone our separate ways. We even gave them a second chance - if Graeme John had had the manners to respond to my 24 October letter, the way his mother raised him, then we also would have gone our separate ways. But, no 'Graeme the Bully' has to provoke an aspiring Billjim just once too often.
So, really what this situation is now about is the old David vs Goliath challenge, using "jujitsu" (the tactic of using the opponents greater size and exposure to trip him up). I'm not going to be bullied by a huge monopoly that has special legal departments setup to intimidate loyal line workers. I am going to do everything I can to bring attention to these issues - especially the maternity issue (the union, the CEPU, is a joke, not surprising when you find out the 'P' stands for 'Plumbing', not 'Postal') - the high percentage of child-bearing age women working in Australia Post that need more commonsense regulations to be put into place to protect mother and fetus, and addressing why Post is lagging behind other major Australian organizations in this area, espcially on the number of weeks of maternity leave.
Ironically, the crazy thing is that in the long run, supporting Pelvic Floor Care would increase Post's profitability - less Sick Leave down the line (and they would need even less high-powered staff controllers up on the mountain) both parties would gain from such maternity improvements.
If our actions and our story save just one family at Australia Post from going through what our family has been through, then it has been worth all the intimidation AP dishes out.
One thing about years, past and future, of chatting to medical professionals, other patients, various other people, drumming up support from politicians, government departments, influential members of the community (we are even corresponding with that great Australian, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch (mother of Rupert), communicating with people through the Internet - a group begins to develop. We are now setting up the Pelvic Floor Care Foundation, and the main candidate to provide sponsorship is obvious.
Sponsorship and/or we seek damages, compensatory and punitive. In additon to specific damages we would be seeking an undertaking by Graeme John to fix Australia Post systems and procedures, in regard to the issues raised above, and grow up - stop being a bully and rip-off artist.
In particular, ensuring there is an enforced policy to allow 7-months pregnant women working on a post office counter to get some backoffice work, to get mother and unborn baby off their feet. And a more accountable, Express post system - for both the receiver and sender.
And it's importamt to remember that the above account is just the experience of a couple pf AP workers, from a class action point of view, it's boggling just what evidence could be contributed by many of the other 35,000 workers, thousands more who have left already - many also shafted, if they thought it was safe to speak out. We could easily set up an Internet Forum to gather such evidence.
Then there are the claims of Aussie Battlers generally.
So in negotiating a settlement with AP, it's settle with us and the money goes to our nominated not-for-profit organizations - symbolically representing ripped-off Australians.
As indicated above, at this early stage it's not possible to calculate the ballpark size of total damages, without further data, but my rough estimation of the size of the settlement we are seeking exceeds $10 million.
Whatever the total works out to be, if AP also makes the system fixes, then we can all go in our separate directions - everything remaining confidential.
Alternatively, if AP wants to be difficult we go public with the whole thing, and call for participants in a proper class action. They could end up with a messier and much bigger payout. And probably the end of Graeme John's career.
And there's the blatant hypocrisy. Australia Post's own Annual Report edition of their periodic internal journal boasts "compliance with all relevant laws... [cf. Trade Practices Act] ... "Our leaders encourage a culture in which ethical conduct is recognised, valued and exemplified at all levels". And Graeme John's bio. on the Auspost directors webpage - boasts he "became an Officer of the Order of Australia in June 2003 for his strategic leadership of Australia Post and for fostering corporate support of charitable organisations..."
What a travesty.
For the Australian public what do we really want from our national postal service?
a) A ruthless fundamentalist right wing organization run using attack dogs, that returns a $300 million dividend transferred to Peter Costello's Treasury, and thus a $300,000 bonus to Graeme John, or
b) A role model organization reflecting Australian values (as in Billjim spirit) and multi-culturalism - no screwing fellow Australians.
If Graeme John chooses not to amake amends, then a man who no doubt intends to retire soon will end up with a lousy legacy and more than his share of Bad Karma, and if I have a miniscule of success, a very public scandal on his hands.
Finally, to our supporters, on behalf of your fellow caring Australians, thank you for taking the time to look at issue that deeply effect all Australians. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
* * *
Australia Post Headquarters
321 Exhibition Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
GPO Box 1777
Melbourne Vic 3001
Ph: 03 9204 7171
Fax: 03 9663 1160
Annual Report '05
Graeme T John AO FCILT Managing Director
"Graeme John joined Australia Post as chief manager national operations in 1990 and was appointed managing director of the corporation in 1993. He became an Officer of the Order of Australia in June 2003 for his strategic leadership of Australia Post and for fostering corporate support of charitable organisations.
Mr John is a director and alternative chairman of Australian air Express and Star Track Express. He is also a commissioner of the Australian Football League and a member of the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Committee for Melbourne."
Coach of Sth Melbourne / Sydney Swans '73-75