Thursday 17 October 2019

Post office closures and job losses 'tough but necessary actions' - An Post boss tells Oireachtas

An Post CEO David McRedmond. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
An Post CEO David McRedmond. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE boss of An Post has defended recent job losses and post office closures saying they were “tough but necessary actions” to ensure the companies transformation into a sustainable business.

The remarks by organisation’s chief executive David McRedmond are in a statement to the Oireachtas Communications Committee.

Job cuts affecting up to 240 people are taking place with the phased closure of the Cork Letter Sorting Centre in the coming months.

A total of 152 post offices have closed around the country in recent times as the organisation went through a process of consolidation.

In his statement Mr McRedmond told TDs and Senators that An Post is on a “journey to transform the company to meet the challenges we face.”

He said there has been “existential threats” to key parts of its mail and retail businesses and has ahd to take decisions to “build a sustainable place for ourselves in this economy”.

He said that An Post has changed from a “rapidly declining, loss-making entity into a growing, profitable business with a sustainable future”.

An Post made a €12.4m loss in 2016 but announced in April that it has an operating profit of €41m in 2018.

He said among the reasons for this were a deal with postmasters and change and efficiencies achieved in the its mail and parcel network.

He said: “All of that has not been achieved without some tough but necessary actions.”

On the Cork Letter Sorting Centre closure he said An Posts plan is to reduce letter processing capacity in line with global trends and switching investment to an ecommerce/parcels network for Cork.

He said it’s a “stark decision” that will result in the loss of 216 jobs, affecting 240 people.

Mr McRedmond said “We are looking after our people as best we can” and pointed to a “strong exit package of 6 weeks per year of service up a maximum of 2 years’ pay”.

There is also said to be redeployment opportunities within An Post’s networks in the Cork area and further education and re-skilling grants up to €3,000 per person.

He aid the €11m annual savings from the plant closure will enable An Post to invest more rapidly in its parcels infrastructure nationally, locally, and in the automation of parcel sorting.

Parcel volumes have grown by 60pc since An Post actively re-entered the market in 2017.

Mr McRedmond said the post office network now stands at 953 offices in every part of the country.

He said: “Since July 2018 we consolidated 152 post offices nationwide and have begun a €20 investment programme in the post office network and in the range of business done in post offices.”

Mr McRedmond said the plan has resulted in increased level of business in neighbouring post offices and in money across the counter.

He cited figures showing that 60pc of those offices have experienced double digit growth in their business.

Mr McRedmond argued that An Post’s actions have “saved and reinvigorated a vital network”.

He also outlined plans to roll-out zero-emissions postal deliveries around the country as part of the fight against climate change.

In terms of the future he said that the “headwinds we face are strong” as mail volumes continue to decline by up to 10pc-a-year and An Post has to find an additional €40m revenue each year just to stand still.

He said: “The gradual decline in cash services and social welfare also continues to threaten the Post Office network which relies on temporary top-up payments from An Post which end in 2021.

Mr McRedmond said the transformation of An Post “needs to accelerate and be seen as a core active element of Government’s strategy for the renewal of Rural Ireland”.

He said a shared commitment between Government and An Post should see a much wider range of services for citizens such as drivers’ licences, car tax, digital identification etc all being available in post offices.

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