Growing Problem Down Under

Postie making rounds.

America isn’t the only nation suffering growing pains!

Consider the weighty problem of Australia’s fast-growing letter carriers. Down Under they are called Posties. Like their U.S. counterparts, the letter carriers are among the most highly regarded of all public servants. This is good because there is now even more of them, the Posties, to regard highly.

What happened is this: Lots of mail in Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne, and the suburbs of other major cities in Australia is delivered by motor bike. That is, Honda 110 cc’s with a driver. Each motorbike is required to carry a mail sack with contents weighing 55 pounds. That includes the riders who, until recently, couldn’t weigh more than 198 pounds.

But that 198 pound limit was imposed in leaner times.

Australians, like their American cousins, can pack it away. And like most of us, they are packing it on. This became a problem when stocky wannabe Posties were turned down because they had too many notches in their belt. The union representing workers complained that it was discrimination. Top postal brass (some of whom look like they haven’t missed many meals themselves) finally moved with the times. They’ve raised the weight ceiling on motorized delivery personnel to 231 pounds.

According to published reports the amount of mail that the sturdy Honda’s will carry, along with stockier Posties, will remain at 55 pounds. But NPR carried a story which said that the amount of mail had been reduced. This, it said, meant that Posties were delivering less. This in turn resulted in more overtime, it reported, causing the postal union to complain that workers were being overworked.

Maybe kangaroos with those pouches…

Never mind!

March On Washington

March is a favorite time for federal unions and associations to march on Washington, although most participants will actually come by train, plane or automobile.

  • The National Treasury Employees Union will have its legislative conference March 4-6 at the L’Enfant Plaza hotel near the U.S. Capitol building. It will feature a candlelight tribute to fallen law enforcement officers and three days of lobbying Congress on issues from pay raises to health insurance premiums. It expects about 300 of the union’s grass roots leaders. Contact:
  • The Federal Managers Association’s 70th national convention runs from March 9-13. It’s at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel in nearby Arlington, Va. The current $500 registration fee is good through Feb. 27. For details go to

Medicare Fix

Experts say that the bill for Medicare, which now costs taxpayers $437 billion, will soar to $678 billion within 5 years unless some drastic changes are made. This Monday, health policy expert Lynn Etheredge talks about Medicare problems and solutions at the regular meeting of COFFE, the Council of Former Federal Executives. Time: 11:30 a.m, Place: the Holiday Inn/Westpark in Rosslyn. Price is $25. Reservations suggested. If OPM announces an unscheduled leave policy for the day, the luncheon will be cancelled. Contact COFFE president Ellen Wormser at:

Nearly Useless Factoid

During a 1992 state dinner, President George H. W. Bush, ill with the flu, lost his lunch in the lap of the Japanese prime minister. The President’s biological event led to the coining of a new word, bushusuru, which most translations define as “to commit an instance of embarrassing public vomiting.”

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