Tesco outlet deal 'threatens to cannibalise' post offices
AN Post has been accused of "getting into bed" with Tesco in a move that could 'cannibalise' the post office network countrywide.
President of the Irish Postmasters' Union (IPU) Ciaran McEntee said he was "disappointed" with the establishment of 'post point' outlets in supermarkets, which have raised fears that community post offices are being sidelined.
He urged the Government not to allow any more of these to be established after the initial pilot programme.
An Post has agreed to establish a network of 10 'post points' in Tesco and Dunnes that will provide services such as paying bills, sending letters, topping up mobile phones and buying stamps.
Staff at the post points are on a lower wage than post office staff and are not bound by the Official Secrets Act.
But Mr McEntee said: "We are very disappointed with An Post because we would rather they had come to us and asked us to put post offices in the supermarkets. We would have accepted that, no problem.
"We hope they go back to the minister now and (that they) don't roll out any more post points. We don't want them to cannibalise other offices by this. What we want is for them to come back and talk to us."
It was the second day of the 92nd annual IPU conference in Tralee, where delegates have been grappling with the future of the post office network. The Irish Independent revealed on Saturday that drastic proposals have been tabled by An Post in the company's negotiations with the IPU.
An Post is adamant that it needs to cut the payments it makes to more than 1,100 postmasters, so it can diversify into new businesses. Cuts of between 7pc and 13pc are being discussed by An Post and the IPU.
Sources say the plans would almost certainly result in the closure of post offices across the country.
In a move to bolster post offices, IPU delegates voted in favour of a new bank being developed through their network. The union's general secretary, Brian McGann, said this was the single most important thing they would be asked to vote on.
The union has called on the Government to set up a working group to discuss the opportunities and objectives to be achieved by setting up a new bank.
Delegates rejected a motion to have An Post supply uniforms to post office staff. The Dublin branch of the IPU objected to it on the grounds that it could pose a security risk to staff and put them at risk of tiger kidnappings if they were so easily identifiable.
Earlier non-delegate members of the union received an apology from its president after they had been excluded from the previous day's session.
Members were furious when they were asked to leave just before Mr McGann's final address as general secretary. He is to stand down in the autumn.
Mr McGann said there was no division in the union and an interim general secretary could be announced as early as next week.