Post office licensees feel the pinch
TIMES are tough for Warwick's post office licensees but they will get a $14,140 belated Christmas gift from their head office.
The government-owned Australia Post will deliver $41m in PO Box payments to 2900 operators, three months early, at the end of January.
The move is part of a plan to help licensees cope with dropping snail mail as social media and other technology takes its place.
But lobby groups representing the region's licensees said Australia Post needed to do more.
Licensed Post Office Group chairwoman Angela Cramp said her colleagues were struggling with a huge fall in bill-paying and banking customers.
"We're competing with online transactions, so while we used to have 300 customers through our post offices every day paying bills and doing their banking, a lot of those people have migrated to online so now we have restricted foot traffic," Ms Cramp said.
"Just because we now have 1000 customers, our overheads haven't reduced.
"We still have to pay our rent and our electricity."
The Post Office Agents Association Limited director Bob Chizzoniti said his members were angry at competition from Australia Post-run outlets.
"Licensees are outraged that Australia Post has taken this step," Mr Chizzoniti said.
"It is seeking to legitimise the practice of transferring customers away from local post offices to corporate outlets to the detriment of local post offices."
Australia Post managing director Ahmed Fahour said he understood that operators were feeling the pain of a "challenging" business environment.
The early payments are among a suite of measures aimed at shoring up Australia Post licensees' futures.
Also on the cards is a review into the sustainability of licensed offices led by former federal senator Helen Kroger.
- APN NEWSDESK