An Post piles pressure on postmasters over account
Management in An Post is stepping up pressure on postmasters who are boycotting its new current account.
Large numbers are refusing to operate the new account as they want more money before they offer it to customers.
But An Post executives have been contacting hundreds of postmasters reminding them they are contractually obliged to offer the new product.
It comes as there is a likelihood that up to 400 post offices will close over the next five years, mostly in rural areas.
Most of the small post offices are loss-making.
Some will be relocated to larger population centres, while others will be moved to co-locate in supermarkets.
As part of this An Post is being restructured into two divisions, a retail section and a mails-and-parcels operation.
The new Smart current account is seen as a key part of the commercial strategy to keep post offices viable.
It is aimed at offering an electronic payment option to the 1.7 million customers who use the post office network each week.
Secretary general of the Irish Postmasters' Union (IPU) Ned O'Hara admitted talks between his executive committee and An Post broke down last week.
He claimed some 800 postmasters were now boycotting the rollout of the new account.
However, An Post said 370 post offices have now signed up for Smart account. This covers most large offices, with a good geographical spread of offices offering it.
Asked if the main issue is the financial incentives being paid to postmasters for operating the Smart account, Mr O'Hara said: "Yes, you are right, it is about money." He said there was no prospect of agreement from postmasters based on the current offer from the company.
An Post, which is led by David McRedmond, is trying to get postmasters to sign a new contract to operate post offices, and agree to a new contract covering all services.
Another sticking point is an exit package for postmasters seeking to retire.
Mr O'Hara said: "We are prepared to sign a new contract as long as it offers the things we want."
A special general meeting of members of the IPU has been called for Sunday week in Athlone to decide on the union's next moves.
An Post said postmasters are contractually obliged to co-operate with the introduction of all new products and services, and customers want to access the Smart account in their local post office.