Ten thousand An Post workers could be in line for a pay increase after enduring an effective pay freeze for the past seven years.
This follows the Labour Court stating that the continuance of the pay freeze proposed by An Post “is no longer a viable proposition” in spite of a warning from An Post that a concession would considerably worsen the financial health of the company.
In its claim, the Communications Workers Union (CWU) is seeking a 6% ‘cost of living’ increase.
Before the Labour Court, the CWU stated that postal staff have not received a pay rise since August 2008 and “staff have contributed very significantly to the successful implementation of major changes, while improving services to record levels”.
The union also pointed out that “major ongoing savings have and continue to be achieved with staff affording full co-operation”.
However, in its response, An Post pointed out that the core An Post firm “is currently in a loss-making cycle”, acknowledging that the overall An Post Group returned to a modest profit in 2014 after two years of losses.
However, An Post stated that it does not accept that there is any basis established for awarding a basic pay increase at present or indeed for the next year at least.
An Post told the Labour Court that “the concession of any increase to basic pay at this time is not warranted and it would considerably worsen the financial health of the company and thus cause further damage to the business”.
Agreement between the two sides could not be reached before the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) resulting in the dispute going before the Labour Court.
In its recommendation, the Labour Court noted that “an effective pay freeze has applied in the company since 2008. In these circumstances it is understandable that the trade union group are now seeking a pay increase”.
However, the Labour Court added that “there is no dispute concerning the difficult financial and commercial circumstances that the company has experienced in recent years and is continuing to experience”.
The court stated that it noted that the financial projections made by the company in relation to its core business “do not suggest any amelioration of the current position in the short term”.
The Labour Court went on to say: “But the impact of the price increase recently allowed by the regulator cannot be fully known at this time. Moreover, there is a need for engagement between the company, its shareholders and the regulator, where appropriate, on the contribution of pricing and growth to the future financial stability of the core business.”
The court stated that “against that background the court does not consider it appropriate to make a definitive recommendation on the union’s pay claim at this time. Nevertheless, the court believes that the continuance of the current pay freeze, as proposed by the company, is not a viable proposition”.
The court stated that in these circumstances, the court recommends that to resolve the current dispute, the parties should engage in further discussion in respect of the range of additional efficiency measures raised in the course of negotiations at the LRC and seek to reach agreement on as many of these measures as possible.
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