SINGAPORE (Feb 8): Singapore Post (SingPost) says it will be hiring a hundred more postmen and redeploying 35 mail-drop drivers to become full-time postmen as well as increase the number of dedicated counters and staff at post offices, aside from upgrading the skill-set of its postal workers.

It will also carry out a broader salary review with incentives for successful deliveries of trackable items to the doorstep; extending mail delivery slots to weekday evenings and on Saturdays with overtime pay for postmen.

It also plans to reduce non-core mail businesses, such as advertisement mail, to focus on raising its service levels for its core mail delivery business.

SingPost announced the new initiatives after the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) fined SingPost $100,000 for not meeting quality of service (QoS) standards on delivery of local basic letters and registered mail in 2017.

Under the Postal QoS framework, SingPost is required to deliver 99% of local basic letters to an address within the Central Business District (CBD) and 98% of local basic letters to destinations outside the CBD areas by the next working day. IMDA says SingPost failed to do so in May 2017, when it failed to meet the standard of 99% delivery of local basic letters within the CBD by the next working day.

SingPost is also expected to deliver all local basic letters and registered mail by the second working day. It also failed to meet the requirements for the delivery of local basic letters by the second working day for the months of January, April, May, October and November 2017, as well as the delivery of registered mail by the second working day for the months of January, September and November that year.

Paul Coutts, group chief executive officer of SingPost, apologised for the group's service failures. "These are the first steps currently taken to address our customers' immediate pain points and to rebuild the trust we have lost," he said. "Please bear with us as we look into longer-term measures that address other issues that customers have raised. We will continue to explore harnessing new technology and infrastructure to enhance our delivery process - and most importantly, investing in the welfare of our workforce."

In its Thursday filing, SingPost noted that the growth of e-commerce has boosted package volumes, raising the postman's workload "significantly". Over the last few months, a seasonal period where e-commerce typically tends to surge, each postman carried out 50 to 60 doorstep deliveries daily on average.

Aileen Chia, IMDA's deputy chief executive and director-general (telecoms & post), says: "IMDA expects SingPost to deliver reliable public postal services to consumers and businesses, in compliance with its licence obligations. IMDA has been closely monitoring the performance of SingPost's postal services, and will take firm action against SingPost for any breaches of the public postal licence requirements and QoS standards."

Chia adds: "The recent service lapses by SingPost indicate gaps in SingPost's processes and we require them to implement measures urgently to meet the public's evolving postal needs." IMDA is currently assessing SingPost's QoS for 2018 and will publish the results by mid-year.

Separately, IMDA says it is investigating a Jan 29 incident in which a postman discarded mail, which is an offence under the Postal Services Act. The postman was arrested after unopened letters and packages meant for Ang Mo Kio residents were found in a rubbish bin.

Shares in SingPost closed 0.5 cent higher at 96 cents on Thursday.