An Post is advising its customers not to post mail due to strike action by staff who maintain sorting equipment at the company’s centers in Dublin, Cork, Portlaoise, and Athlone. Posting mail from overseas is also ill advised.

The striking staff are employed by contractor IO Systems and the dispute is over new rostering arrangements for the workers and subsequent loss of earnings, the Irish Times reports.

“Due to the withdrawal of labour by staff of IO Systems, we are unable to process mail for delivery to customers,” An Post announced on Friday.

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) have said the decision by An Post to shut down mail services is “bizarre and reckless.”

CWU general secretary Steve Fitzpatrick said the action would “have long term damaging consequences for postal services in Ireland and industrial relations at the company.”

Minister for Communications Alex White has urged the two parties involved in the dispute to find a resolution.

White said those involved in the dispute should be “extremely mindful of the impact” it could have on the financial position and reputation of An Post.

The row came at “a time when significant and challenging changes are underway in the postal and communications sector,” he said.

“Above all, I think the needs of millions of citizens and businesses, who rely on our postal service, should be the priority.”
IO systems, a Japanese-owned company based in Athlone, has a three-year deal with An Post. As part of the contract, it has to generate savings of about €100,000. 

The Irish Times reports that as part of reform plans the company introduced new rostering arrangements for staff without agreement of the union.

The Labour Court backed the restructuring proposals with some amendments last February, but the CWU objected to the manner in which these have been put in place by the company.

The union says that the new rostering arrangements and reductions in premium and shift payments effectively imposed pay cuts of up to 22 percent on IO Systems workers. It also maintained that the company had sought to introduce rosters “which will force workers onto non-rotating night work for the rest of their working lives.”

IO Systems has stated that it “deplores” the action of the CWU which it claims was in total breach of an obligation in an agreement with the company to refer any unresolved disputes to the Labour Court for a binding ruling.

The company said that the IO Systems workers, instructed by the CWU, were now in default of their conditions of employment to their newly assigned shift requirements as determined by the Labour Court.

IO Systems said to had sought to reach an agreement with the union over the past two and a half years.

“IO systems calls on CWU to abide by its agreement and refer this unresolved and pointless dispute for binding decision in accordance with the terms of the company/union agreement.”

According to An Post, mail deliveries on Friday were operating as normal but that a small number of letters had not been processed the night before due to the industrial action between IO Systems and the CWU.

“An Post greatly regrets this inconvenience to our customers and urges the parties involved to resolve their differences through the normal industrial relations procedures.