Postmasters are to hold a protest outside the GPO next Tuesday saying they will resist any Post Office closures driven by An Post.
The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) also demanded the immediate publication and implementation of the completed Post Office Network plan Chaired by Bobby Kerr.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said Government must immediately intervene and stop An Post from stalling the €56m Network development plan.
An Post’s Group Chief Executive, David McRedmond, has said that the company wants to stall any decision on planning for future of the Post Office Network until at least next May, while it works on a separate Post Office strategy of its own, and has signalled the potential for significant Post Office closures.
Ned O’Hara said the IPU was completely opposed to the approach being taken by An Post and would oppose any closures driven by the company.
He said that Postmasters had signed up to the Post Office Network Strategy Board report (Chaired by businessman Bobby Kerr), which was completed before Christmas, and includes a structured plan to sustain and develop the Post Office Network over four years, and includes a Government investment of €56m.
The plan was developed in partnership between Government, the IPU and An Post, following a two-year process, and recommends immediate implementation from January 2017.
Mr O’Hara said An Post should not be allowed to now ignore this work and a do ‘solo run’ on the future of the Network and the fate of rural communities, while focusing on its commercial targets.
“The IPU does not accept An Post’s position of abandoning the vast amount of work done over the last two years and developing its own new plan. This is ignoring Government, unfair to Postmasters, damaging to the Network – and not representative of community concerns.
“Government had ongoing oversight of the Bobby Kerr Chaired report and in principle agreed to its contents at each stage. We have already negotiated on each issue and we have all brought compromise to the table in the interest of the Network.
“An Post cannot now be left alone to place its commercial mandate ahead of the social needs of communities. Postmasters are calling on Communications Minister Denis Naughton and the Government to intervene immediately. Bobby Kerr has already drawn all of the information and views together and, while Postmasters do not agree with all of the contents, we believe it offers a workable solution for the Network. The plan includes many new products and services which Post Offices can provide to increase their offering to the public.
“We call on the Ministers concerned Naughton, Humphreys and Ring to publish the report and demand immediate transition to its implementation. Our Post Office Network is in crisis and delay will damage it further.
“The An Post plan can be discussed when it is published later in the year on its own merits, but it must not delay the collective report that Government, Postmasters and An Post have worked together on.”
“We all signed up to this plan and we all worked on it for two years. It is now finalised and has a start date of January 2017. This must be honoured – and Government must take this responsibility and represent the needs of communities which are carefully considered in the report.
“Postmasters presented half a million signatures to Government calling for action in 2015 and research in 2016 showed that the vast majority of people place a social and community value on their Post Office and want services in their community,” Mr O’Hara concluded.
The protest will take place outside the GPO on O’Connell Street, Dublin at 11am next Tuesday, March 14