An Post Staff to be Dumped in Deregulation?


An Post workers have been on the receiving end of a series of substantial blows which have held down pay rates and undermined rights with regard to status. The late 1970’s and early 1980’s saw strikes and protests by the workers to improve conditions, but recent years have seen management back on the offensive. The latest attack comes in the shape of “deregulation”, just another word for privatisation. If it isn’t stopped it’s going to impact on all of us for the worse.

Why is deregulation so bad?

Firstly, you need to understand how the postal system works. Letter post is separated into two categories: commercial, and domestic. In the first category is all the business post, including bills (Gas, ESB, Phone, etc.). In the second are private letters and postcards.

When the multinationals come into the market place after deregulation, they will immediately go for the commercial post, and the rest will be left for An Post to sort out.

So with a loss of volume of this extent, the first thing that will happen will be that management will look for a serious reduction in the number of staff. What we could be looking at is as many as three out of every four workers losing their jobs. Then, the new corporation can use the network of An Post to build their business. No questions asked. You do not have to be clairvoyant to see where this is going, and the disastrous effects it would have on the less profitable rural mail.

At the moment all mail is treated on an equal basis, as it should be. Under deregulation it is almost inevitable that the cost of private postage would increase, as there will be greater costs involved in moving smaller volumes of post to and from less populated parts of the country. And there would be no profits from commercial mail to subsidise ordinary post.

The EU Commission has ruled that deregulation is to start 18 months from now, and it will be taking place across all 27 EU countries.

At the moment there is large level of co-operation between the various postal trade unions and some sympathetic MEP’s are attempting to derail the juggernaut of deregulation. We expect the conflict to escalate in the forthcoming months, with further stoppages and protests. At the end of the day, while support from MEPs is welcome, it will be our own willingness to fight to defend of our jobs that will be the decisive factor.

Privatisation has never been a success for people generally or for the workers involved. It’s not really meant to, it’s about providing yet another opportunity for the rich to get richer and that’s why it keeps coming back onto the agenda

This article is from Workers Solidarity 98, July/August 2007

PDF file of Workers Solidarity 98