Following the debacle resulting from SingPost’s failure to carry out a flyer printing and distributing service worth $7,000 for a business owner and a netizen’s discovery of unopened letters in public dustbins, the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced on Tuesday (29 Jan) that “firm action” will be taken against SingPost for any lapses in meeting public postal licence requirements and service standards.
TODAY Online reported IMDA as saying that “SingPost must investigate all complaints and feedback raised, and take urgent steps to improve its service standards and restore public confidence in its postal services”.
IMDA added that it has started an independent probe into the most recent incident involving unopened letters of residents living in the Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 and 5 area.
The Postal Services Act stipulates that it is an offence for “any officer, employee or agent of a postal licensee to destroy or throw away any postal article or anything contained therein”, and should the postman – who was dismissed from his position – be found guilty of the offence, he may be fined up to S$10,000, jailed for not more than three years, or both.
A SingPost spokesperson told TODAY Online on 27 Feb last year that the latest review of delivery routes took place in May the year before in a bid to redistribute the workload among its postmen.
The spokesperson added: “We plan the routes to ensure our postmen are able to complete their deliveries daily within six hours without compromising health and safety”.
The same day, the Minister for Communications and Information Assoc Prof Dr Yaacob Ibrahim told Parliament that “SingPost has to comply with prevailing labour legislation that protects the rights and welfare of its workers”.
“I am told that over the past few years, SingPost has increased postmen’s salary and that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has not received any valid salary related complaints over the last five years,” he said.
Dr Yaacob added that “SingPost has been actively adopting technology and has invested $100 million over the last few years to improve its operational efficiency”.
“For instance, SingPost invested in a $45 million mail sorting machine that has automated 95% of the mail sorting process.
“To make it easier for its postmen to deliver mail, SingPost has also introduced more delivery vehicles, such as three-wheel scooters and customised mail delivery trolleys. IMDA is fully supportive of SingPost’s on-going efforts to adopt technology and redesign jobs,” he said.
Dr Yaacob also highlighted that “IMDA does not limit the number of letter boxes each postman serves”.
“As a licensee, SingPost is required to plan and optimise its operations to meet the IMDA’s Postal Quality of Service (QoS) standards, namely to deliver 100% of all basic letters within two working days of posting.
“IMDA will take regulatory actions such as imposing financial penalties if SingPost fails to meet these standards,” he stressed.
In line with SingPost’s explanation, Dr Yaacob said that “SingPost recently reviewed its postman delivery route to ensure that the daily delivery workload is equitably distributed amongst its postmen”.
“Currently, each postman delivers mail items to approximately 2,000 dwelling units or roughly 20 HDB blocks daily. In designing a postman’s delivery route, SingPost ensures that each postman is able to complete his delivery within a standard six-hour delivery window.
“During peak periods where there are higher mail volumes, SingPost may engage temporary postal workers for sorting duties, redeploy staff or request postmen to work overtime to ensure that mail are delivered in a timely manner.
“Postmen who work overtime are given overtime pay,” he noted.
Dr Yaacob’s statements were made in response to Nee Soon Member of Parliament Louis Ng Kok Kwang’s questions regarding whether IMDA places a limit on the number of mailboxes a postman has to cover each day, and whether there are regulations in place to safeguard the working conditions of postmen.