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Minister must act now to avert An Post strike - Crowe

21 October, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Seán Crowe TD has called on Communications Minister, Noel Dempsey, to use the two weeks notification of industrial action, given by the Construction Workers Union today, to intervene with the management of An Post so that a just resolution to this dispute can be secured before the workers are forced to strike.

Speaking today Deputy Crowe said, “The workers at An Post have been trying for the last three years to secure the 12.5% cost of living increase, which is due to them under the National Partnership agreement.  A year and a half ago the labour court awarded them 5%.  This was a non-binding agreement on the insistence of management, who brought the case and openly stated they would ignore the ruling if it didn’t suit them.  In parallel with this the Management have instituted a recruitment embargo during which time 600 people have left.  This has put the staff under enormous pressure and is causing major delays to the post service.  This is causing immense hardship in communities and I am aware of cases where people in receipt of social welfare cheques have not received them in time leaving them penniless for days on end.

“An Post pleads poverty for its refusal to pay the workers what they are owed and also for its refusal to recruit new staff.  This is questionable as the company has major assets and has refused to show its books to the labour court.  However even if we are to give some credence to this it is worth looking at why this is so.  The recent introduction of new sorting technology in Dublin, Cork and Portlaoise, at a cost of millions, which is still not working properly reveals a staggeringly incompetent management.

“The recruitment embargo appears to be designed to force the unions to agree to no contract labour so that An Post can recruit lowly paid foreign workers. This is reminiscent of the Irish Ferries scandal.  What does the Taoiseach think of this incidence of ‘sharp practice’? He should be even more concerned as his Government is the sole stakeholder in An Post.  This makes Minister Dempsey’s reply to me when questioned on these matters that ‘he had no responsibility to Dáil Éireann’ on this matter ridiculous.

“I am calling on the Minister to stop shirking his responsibilities and move to prevent the workers from being forced into strike action.  Ultimately the responsibility will rest with this Government.  The workers demands are just and it is worth noting that support for industrial action was over 90%. I think the public will see that the workers had no other course of action.” ENDS

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