A strike by workers at a firm contracted to maintain An Post’s automated mail sorting machines was suspended late yesterday afternoon after a mediator stepped in.
The 36 staff of IO Systems had been on strike since midnight last Thursday over cuts to pay and loss of shift premiums that resulted from the company’s introduction of new rosters.
Their union, the Communications Workers Union (CWU), said the decision to suspend the strike was taken following a request by veteran industrial relations mediator, Phil Flynn, to come to the talks table.
The CWU general secretary, Steve Fitzpatrick, said the suspension was also contingent on IO Systems reinstating the striking workers’ previous rostering arrangements and wage levels.
“As we have consistently stated, we are prepared to engage, but only on the basis that workers at IO Systems have their jobs restored to their agreed wage levels and rosters. We are also prepared to back Phil Flynn’s intervention in good faith. However, we hope that IO Systems, or indeed An Post management, don’t squander the opportunity that is being presented.”
An Post, which warned the public last Friday morning not to post any letters or parcels until further notice, has lifted the warning but said it could take several days to deal with the backlog.
Communications Minister Alex White said he would continue to monitor developments. “On Friday, and again this morning, I called on the parties to focus their efforts on finding a resolution that quickly ends the disruption to postal services,” he said.
“I welcome the progress that has now been made and I hope that the parties will reach a speedy resolution of all the matters in dispute.”
The breakthrough came as calls for an end to the strike intensified. Business groups, Ibec, Isme, and the Small Firms Association, all appealed for a resolution to be found, warning that jobs could be put in jeopardy.
AJ Noonan, the chairman of the Small Firms Association, said: “An efficient postal system is essential to Ireland’s 200,000 small businesses. Many of our members rely on the postal service to fulfil orders, and to send and receive invoices, statements, and payments. The longer this strike continues the bigger negative impact it will have on cash flow for Irish small businesses, which could lead to job losses and potential closures.”
The Department of Social Protection had just announced that 73,000 welfare recipients who receive their weekly payments by post were going to have to wait an extra day to get them and were going to have to turn up in person at welfare offices to collect them.
That arrangement was stood down once the suspension of strike notice was announced but some people whose cheques should have been posted yesterday may get them late this week.