Ahead of the Irish Postmasters Union annual conference in Kilkenny, its general secretary, Ned O’Hara, said there was a lot of frustration among its 1,100 members at the lack of Government action to support post offices.
“We have post-office candidates who are keen to run for election and they want the backing of the IPU. If the motion is passed (at the conference) these candidates will have the support of 1,100 post offices across the country who will be urging customers and communities to vote for the candidate and not support the Government parties,” Mr O’Hara said.
“Regrettably we are moving towards becoming a country of out-of-town shopping centres concentrated at larger urban centres while the heart of local communities is being closed down.”
The IPU has also called on the public to stop receiving social protection payments through electronic fund transfer and start collecting them from the post office,
It said about half of social protection payments are paid by EFT and half at the post office, with the government aiming for 97% electronic payment by the end of 2018. An independent report by Grant Thornton last year concluded that hundreds of post offices nationwide would close in the coming years, mainly due to the change in delivery of social protection payments.
Meanwhile, industrial action which could have led to major disruption to the postal service has been averted, at least for now.
Employees of IO Systems, which has the maintenance contract for An Post, had been considering industrial action if the company went ahead with plans to introduce cost-saving measures worth up to €100,000 on May 4 without the agreement of their union, the Communications Workers Union. The matter had been the subject of several hearings at the Labour Court and Labour Relations Commission.
On Thursday night, the union received confirmation that implementation of the measures was postponed to allow for further talks.