1987: Anger at sweeping closures of post offices

October 16: New Zealand Post yesterday announced that 57 post offices in Otago and Southland will close on February 5, 1988. Of those 28 are in the Dunedin postal district.

A further eight offices in the district will be converted into agencies.

The closures in Otago and Southland make up nearly 13% of the 432 closures nationwide.

The Dunedin section secretary of the Post Office Union, Mr M.J. Chaney, said 45 jobs will be lost as a result of the closures.

Mr Chaney said the union cannot estimate the number of jobs that could be lost through "flow-ons."

"We've had suspicions for quite some time that there would be this many closures," he said.

"But it does not give us any satisfaction to see our predictions come true."

Since corporatisation of the Post Office, Telecoms and Post Bank do not have to use the services of New Zealand Post, Mr Chaney said.

"That is what's made the offices uneconomic.

Plus the removal of the social subsidy."

The union chairman, Mr J.G. Reid, said before corporatisation the postmaster-general gave assurances there would be no large-scale closures.

"The Government recognised it had a commitment to the disadvantaged and aged by the providing of a social subsidy of $35-40 million for the 1987-88 financial year, to keep local post offices that were unprofitable open," Mr Reid said.

"They have now decided that despite many personal assurances from individual Government members of Parliament, not to honour this commitment.

"These closures will not only mean a loss of many jobs, but also additional hardship and costs for people in the community who can least afford it."

Asked what choices there were for redundant staff, Mr Chaney said: "There aren't any, basically."

The chairman of New Zealand Post, Mr Michael Morris, said in a statement yesterday that staff members would be offered redeployment where possible, and where it was not they would be offered voluntary severance.

Mr Chaney said most of the members have indicated they want jobs within the company again.

"We're very sceptical that they [New Zealand Post] will place many of the 45 people," Mr Chaney said.

Stamps will be available through a wider variety of outlets - such as grocery stores - there will be more posting boxes and where necessary postmen's runs and rural delivery services will be extended, he said.

"These are things which will have to be negotiated.

:It's a wrench for these elderly people," he said. "It will certainly make a change to their habits."

The offices to be closed in the Dunedin postal districts are Andersons Bay, Brockville, Corstorphine, Fairfield, Liberton, Maori Hill, Millers Flat, Musselburgh, North-East Valley, Omakau, Oturehua, Sawyers Bay, Roslyn (a Post Bank facility will be set up in Roslyn), Ettrick, Broad Bay, Cherry Farm, Dunback, Karitane, Larnach Rd, Momona, Naseby, Patearoa, Taieri Mouth, Waihola, Waipori Falls, Waitahuna, Waldronville and Warrington.

Offices to be converted to agencies are: Clyde, Macandrew Bay, Middlemarch, Outram, Portobello, Ravensbourne, St Clair and Waitati.