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Sunday 21 September 2014

Postmasters 'locked out' of own AGM

Published 04/05/2014 | 02:30

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Brian McGann has decided to step down amid grave uncertainty among postmasters over the future of the post office network
Brian McGann has decided to step down amid grave uncertainty among postmasters over the future of the post office network

POSTMASTERS attending their annual general conference were left furious after they were expelled from the meeting ahead of the general secretary's address.

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Just as Brian McGann was about to make his final address to the Irish Postmasters' Union (IPU)'s 92nd- annual delegate conference in Tralee, Co Kerry, IPU president Ciaran McEntee announced the session was "closed" and invited all union members who were not delegates to leave. Media were also excluded from the session.

Postmasters were shocked this week at the unexpected announcement by Mr McGann that he was stepping down from his role, just days ahead of the conference.

Outside the closed door of the conference room at the Fels Hotel, postmasters expressed their anger over what had just happened.

Seamus O Loinsigh, chairman of the Kerry branch of the IPU, said it was "symptomatic of the greater malaise within the organisation".

Mr O Loinsigh, who owns Oifig an Phoist Cheann Tra in west Kerry, was one of the conference organisers and one of about 20 union members who were effectively locked out.

"There is a lack of communication and openness within the IPU with members being effectively excommunicated," Mr O Loinsigh told the Sunday Independent.

He said he was unable to comment on Mr McGann's resignation as they had not been given that information when they were asked to leave.

Earlier, Mr McEntee said that proposals by An Post, revealed by the Irish Independent, to introduce pay cuts of up to 10 per cent were "nothing new" and had been known for some time.

However, postmasters disagree with his assertion and say some members were only hearing of the proposals now.

One member said there was a "vague mention" of it in a bulletin, but they had not been officially informed by either An Post or their union.

But Mr McEntee said: "We knew this was coming, but it's not about that. It's about securing new business. We get paid per unit and we're fighting this cut and we'll be fighting tooth and nail not to have this cut happen," he said.

Mr McEntee said the IPU had offered to take over new business like motor tax and banking, and he hoped the new cross-department subcommittee set up by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte would look into these.

But An Post insists it needs to implement the proposed pay cuts to more than 1,100 postmasters if it can diversify into new business.

Postmaster, who are subcontracted by An Post, are paid €20,000 to €30,000 per annum for administering social welfare payments, as part of the multimillion-euro contract secured with the Department of Social Protection last year.

Sunday Independent

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