Postmasters are to hold an emergency meeting to consider a ballot on Industrial Action, including to withdraw support for changes to Postal Money Order and Foreign Exchange services.
The potential action comes amid mounting frustration with An Post and Government, as Postmasters say morale is low and meaningful engagement is needed to resolve a range of issues.
The national Members’ Meeting has been called for next Monday (March 28), and the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) Executive has motioned discussion of a ballot on Industrial Action.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said the Postal Order and Foreign Exchange issues are not the whole problem, but a tipping point among multiple issues that have built up between Postmasters and the company.
“This Meeting has been called to recognise and address low morale amongst Postmasters after enormous efforts throughout COVID-19 when our members worked longer hours, completed additional training and have been highly flexible. Frustration with An Post has mounted to a tipping point on a series of payments issues which include:
- A new Contract was signed in 2018 and we are still awaiting a promised ‘fit for purpose’ payments system
- Payments for additional work on Money Laundering, agreed in early 2021, are not being delivered
- Additional pay for 2021 Christmas Payments has been withheld
- A new rate for additional agency banking services is stalled
- Pay for additional work on Western Union transactions is not forthcoming.”
Mr. O Hara said that the latest requirement from An Post is to deliver changes to Postal Money Order and Foreign Exchange services, which would involve additional work for Postmasters. However, An Post wants to introduce it without engagement on pay.
An Post told Postmasters that the change was mandatory to comply with new Money Laundering standards. It would require Postal Money Order and Foreign Exchange customers to complete a new application form for even very small amounts, and to also provide personal ID and a household bill for larger amounts.
However, Mr O’Hara said Postmasters are very unhappy that An Post has not engaged in a discussion on the rate as additional work is involved. The Union also queried if the change was necessary and fears that it would reduce business.
“This change is being railroaded without engagement with those who would have to deliver it. Postmasters recognise that the change is legal requirement for an Post, but we ask if it is necessary in the first place. Members have not been aware of a money laundering issue related to these services and it appears to our Members like bureaucracy gone mad.
“In fact there is a real danger that this change will put people off using Post Offices for these services. There will be public annoyance whereby an application form would have to be completed to buy a €5 Postal Order.”
IPU President Seán Martin said the Union is also frustrated with Government, which last year commissioned an Inter-Departmental Report on offline services and generating additional business at Post Offices. However, even though the group completed its work last year, no report has been forthcoming and the IPU understands that nothing substantial will be included – when and if the report is published.
“84% of Post Office transactions are delivered by Postmasters, who at every turn have been available, flexible and enthusiastic to develop and sustain vital services in the heart of our communities. An Post appears to be preoccupied with its bottom line, at the expense of Postmasters, who continue to deliver its services.
“To avert the potential for Industrial Action An Post needs to engage meaningfully with the IPU. The company needs to show our members that they are valued by rewarding their work and also ensuring that changes support greater business activity at Post Offices rather than taking it away.
“Government for its part needs to do much more to direct additional public and citizen services to Post Offices. Postmasters recognise that the current period is challenging for An Post. Government needs to ensure that the company has the resources it needs to work harmoniously with Postmasters and that these challenges are not borne unfairly by Postmasters.”
Mr. Martin concluded by saying: “Postmasters are open to meaningfully engaging with An Post, on the full range of these issues, and to ensuring that Post Office services remain both user friendly and safe.”
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.