UP to 1,000 jobs could be lost at An Post if the downturn in commercial business caused by the recession does not improve, a senior trade union official has warned.
Steve Fitzpatrick, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), was commenting after An Post published a notice in its staff magazine, PostNews, warning of the serious impact the downturn was having on its business.
Job cuts across the board and a reduction in overtime are already a reality for the state’s postal service as the company is hit by a 10% reduction in mail volumes, the loss of a major contract, and growing competition within the sector.
An Post has been in negotiations on the issue with its unions for weeks, including the CWU, which represents 8,000 of its 10,000 staff.
PostNews warned in its lead article that “the company is at the very centre of the Irish economy and the reduced level of commercial activity at a national level has a direct impact on our revenue and cost base”.
“Core mail volumes are down 10% on last year and this trend is expected to continue into 2010,” it said.
Another major blow was the loss of a €3 million contract from online shopping company, Littlewoods, to which An Post had provided customised parcel processing and delivery services for several years.
“Unfortunately, the unavoidable result of this will be a number of job reductions in the mails division... currently the subject of discussions between the company and the CWU,” the article said.
“If you take 10% of anyone’s business away, you don’t need the same amount of overtime,” a spokeswoman said.
“We must remain competitive. We must have staffing based on current business not on past volumes. We want to maintain the maximum number of jobs and we are looking at a mixture of job cuts and reductions in overtime.”
CWU boss Steve Fitzpatrick said at present the union and the company are managing to agree cutbacks in staff numbers through natural wastage.
He pointed out that every year the company recruits 500-600 people just to keep their numbers up to service demand, so by putting a stop any new recruitment it was also able to make significant savings.
“Ultimately, if the level of mail was to stay out of the system, which there is every chance it will, it could lead to a reduction of 1,000,” he warned, adding that, if that were the case the sides would have to debate compulsory redundancies, something hitherto unheard of at An Post.
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