The Cork Mail Centre closed in the early hours of tomorrow morning as the last shift finished at the Little Island facility.
An Post announced the closure, with the loss of over 200 jobs, in June of last year as part of its plan to consolidate and reduce its letter processing capacity and switch investment into its e-commerce/parcels network in Cork city and county.
It said the move was in line with trends across the industry globally.
The move was met with huge local anger and allegations that Cork representatives did little to prevent the closure.
Tonight, the 60 or so remaining staff at the facility will process the last batches of mail from the facility with the final shift finishing up at around 6am tomorrow morning.
The plant closure is the third and final phase of a closure programme involving 216 jobs and affecting some 240 people.
Since the closure process began staff have been taking up a range of options including an exit package, re-deployment within the organisation and a range of re-training and reskilling options assisted by a €3,000 grant.
An Post said the facility has been operating at below 25% capacity as mail volumes declined at about 7% per year as more and more people move away from traditional letters towards parcels and e-commerce.
Garrett Bridgeman, managing director of An Post mails and parcels, paid tribute to the staff at the facility and acknowledged it was a difficult time for them.
"We said at the time that the closure of the Cork Mail Centre was not the fault of any of the local staff but a consequence of the serious changes affecting our business.
"I want to thank them all for their service and express the deepest gratitude of all at An Post. This has not been an easy time but An Post appreciates the manner in which our colleagues have acted over the months since the closure was announced," he said.
In August of last year, the Irish Examiner revealed that communications minister Richard Bruton received correspondence imploring the retention of the facility but did not receive any regarding the other mail centres that had been considered for the axe.
One letter from a representative of the Cork Mails Centre branch of the Communications Workers Union from November 2018 said staff were "worried and repulsed" following a previous An Post announcement the centre was potentially going to close.
Solidarity TD Mick Barry, who has been a vocal critic of the decision to close the facility, also paid tribute to the workforce.
“The workers fought to keep the Mail Centre open but it is very hard to defeat a plan like this when it is being supported by a combination of the Government, An Post and the national union leadership. It was a wrong decision last summer and it’s even more a wrong decision now.
"The Covid-19 crisis is going to result in a big increase in online shopping and An Post should be using the Little Island premises as a base to store the parcels and have them sorted and delivered from there,” he said.