Australia Post is scrambling to work through a record backlog of parcels after hundreds of staff were forced into isolation as online shopping boomed during the Victorian lockdown.
The postal giant announced on Saturday it would be taking drastic action to meet the “huge demand” and deal with delays stemming from "challenges" created by the state's Covid crisis.
Facilities in Melbourne are processing one million parcels each day - enough to fill the seats of the MCG ten times - as the company grapples with staff shortages, border closures, reduced flights and compliance with Covid-safe restrictions.
How AusPost will catch up
Posties and delivery drivers have been set the ambitious task of delivering as many as 350,000 packages across Victoria each and every weekend for the rest of the year in a bid to catch up.
Six additional pop-up sites have been created at Dandenong, Somerton, Tottenham, Thomastown and two at Derrimut and 1,000 additional team members are being recruited to help work through the enormous number of parcels, previously only seen at Christmas.
The number of weekly freighter flights into Victoria has also been doubled to 60 to help carry more than 340 tonnes of parcels a week, with another 32 tonnes arriving via extra weekly Express Post trucks.
“We haven’t stopped delivering and have broken delivery records throughout the pandemic even as we’ve been faced with challenges like having large numbers of our Melbourne people in isolation,” Australia Post General Manager Corporate Affairs Michelle Skehan said.
“We recognise that people want their parcels to arrive as quickly as possible, especially as we head into Christmas, and that means on weekends too, and our people really are doing all they can to meet the huge demand under challenging times.”
‘Terrifying’ photo revealed extent of problem
It comes after a confronting photo emerged on Monday which shows the mountains of parcels that were piled up and waiting to be delivered at the distribution centre in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine.
Ms Skehan admitted to 3AW Breakfast that the picture looked “a little bit terrifying” and the postal giant was grappling with an “enormous logistical problem” which forced a temporary pause on e-parcel pickups and collections.
Another statement read: “With parcel volumes at Christmas levels, our network continues to be under increased pressure, and is amplified in Victoria where we continue to manage a heavily reduced workforce due to the impact of the Delta strain.”
Ms Skehan said it was a “difficult decision” to pause parcel parcel collections from eCommerce retailers but it had been “vital” in returning volumes in Victorian facilities to safe levels.
Around 4.5 million parcels were able to be processed during that time, while deliveries continued across the city.
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