The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) is the representative body for 90% of Postmasters, including over 1,000 members. The IPU works to ensure a secure future for Post Offices across Ireland. The IPU is committed to maximising the economic and social value of Post Offices. The IPU represents Postmasters in negotiations with Government and An Post.
What is the role of the Postmaster?
Postmasters are independent SME’s contracted by An Post to run Post Offices. They are not State employees and are not paid a fixed salary. They are paid by the State, or commercial bodies, per transaction that they provide and many also run local shops in tandem with the Post Office.
As group of SMEs, Postmasters pay €2.1 million in rates to Local Authorities (approx. €2k per Post Office) and through wages they spend in excess of €64.5 million largely in local economies. All rates, rent, wages, etc. are paid by the Postmaster.
What is the size and scale of the Irish Post Office Network?
The Post Office Network is the largest retail Network in Ireland with 1,150 branches. 1,050 Post Offices are run by independent Postmasters who operate as small businesses and provide employment to 3,700 people.
The public continues to use the Post Office in large numbers, though this varies across the Network. Post Offices serve 1.7 million customers every week. That translates to 88.4 million customer transactions each year, which is greater than Irish Rail and LUAS combined.
What do Post Offices provide to the public and communities?
Post Offices provide essential Postal, Social and Financial services at 1,150 community based locations across the country.
The Postal Services they provide are stamps, postage and delivery of letter and parcels nationally and internationally. The Social Services they provide include Social Protection payments, payment of fines and licences, Passport Express and Prize Bonds. The Financial Services they provide include BillPay, local banking, NTMA (State Savings), foreign exchange and national and international money transfer.
Post Offices are widely acknowledged to have a highly positive influence on business and community life in their localities. They also provide a social centrepoint in their localities and contribute to community cohesion.
Is the future of the Post Office Network under threat?
Current concern about the future of the Post Office network has been growing and much of this concern was set out in two independent reports by Grant Thornton, one in 2012 and a follow up report in 2014. The most recent Report concluded that hundreds of Offices are in danger of closing in the coming years. The core challenge faced by Post Offices is the shift towards online financial and service transactions.
The IPU believes that the Post Office Network is a valuable National Asset which needs to be secured into the future retaining its role in the delivery of Social Protection payments and its role expanded to meet the evolving needs to the public.
What is happening to tackle this threat?
In 2015 the IPU published its Six Point Plan on what steps can be taken to secure and develop Post Office’s future. The IPU believes that there are many opportunities available to help achieve this and continues to highlight them through engagement with its members, stakeholders and through the media.
Following the publication of the Post Office Network Business Development Group Report (Chaired by Bobby Kerr and involving the IPU, Government and An Post) in January 2016, the IPU is currently taking part in two Working Groups which aim to ‘refresh, renew and reinvent’ for future of Post Offices.