A “terrifying” photo from inside an Australia Post distribution centre has emerged as the postal giant scrambles to work through “Christmas levels” of parcels amid staff shortages caused by Melbourne’s Covid crisis.
Australia Post is grappling with “an enormous logistical problem” after close to 200 staff were forced into self-isolation as online shopping boomed in Victoria.
In a statement to Yahoo News, an Australia Post spokesperson said the staff shortages combined with “border closures, reduced flights and compliance with Covid-safe restrictions does create challenges” and “some delivery delays may be experienced.”
The company announced last week a temporary pause on e-parcel pickups and collections until Wednesday in a bid to clear the backlog.
“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,” a statement read.
“The temporary pause will help manage the record volumes being experienced in the network and importantly return them to a level that is safe and manageable for our people.”
Extent of problem revealed
Radio station 3AW was sent the confronting picture of the distribution centre in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine, which shows the mountains of parcels that were piled up and waiting to be delivered on Sunday morning.
Australia Post general manager of corporate affairs, Michelle Skehan, admitted to 3AW Breakfast that the picture “looks a little bit terrifying”.
“It is very orderly and they are massive facilities, but look, it’s not a great situation we’ve found ourselves in,” she said.
Ms Skehan told the program it is getting harder for the postal giant to find solutions to cope with increased demand than it was during earlier lockdowns throughout the pandemic.
“Even last year when we had workforce restrictions in our facilities … we could send things up to Sydney,” she said.
“Because we’ve got Sydney, the ACT and Victoria all in lockdown it’s an enormous logistical problem.”
Staff working hard to catch up
Australia Post told Yahoo News more than one million parcels were processed in Victoria over the weekend and around half a million were delivered in Melbourne alone from Friday to Sunday.
“Our people at our facilities, our drivers and our posties, are busier than ever before, processing and delivering a record number of parcels, as online shopping in locked down Melbourne and Sydney soars,” a spokesperson said.
More than 10 million parcels are being consistently delivered across the nation each week - a volume previously only seen at Christmas time.
The postal giant said it has invested in chartering extra planes, putting more vehicles on the road, and opening new permanent and temporary facilities to manage the volume, and are also hiring 1000 team members in Victoria in the lead up to Christmas.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.