'It shows how anxious An Post are to get rid of us' - Postmasters offered 'generous' deal in bid to shut 262 offices
Management at An Post is offering what is regarded as a generous package to postmasters in a bid to get them to exit the business.
They have been offered nine weeks' pay for every year of service.
This contrasts with a recent order from the Labour Court that An Post pay 300 mail staff it is seeking to lay off a total of six weeks' pay for every year of service.
An Post wants 262 post offices to take the exit deal, but it has not identified any individual offices.
Documents presented to the Irish Postmasters' Union (IPU) claim the company sees as an "ideal" situation the closure of 422 offices.
But that would cost it €27.6m to execute.
"The company has prepared a blueprint of what it sees as the ideal post office network from a commercial and social perspective - this is a network of circa 700 post offices with a reduction of 422 outlets," a presentation to the IPU states.
Instead, An Post is seeking 262 self-employed postmasters to take a deal that will cost An Post €11.5m. Over a three-year period it expects to realise annual savings of €3.9m from the closures.
One source in the network conceded that the offer of nine weeks' pay was generous.
"It goes to show how anxious An Post is to get rid of us," he said.
It is understood the initial offer was four weeks' pay.
The voluntary exit scheme would see retiring postmasters getting nine weeks' pay per year of service, capped at 112 weeks.
Some 202 of the 262 offices would qualify for the maximum payment.
This would likely be around €65,000 for postmasters with earnings of €30,000 a year.
Many of the postmasters likely to take up the offer are earning modest amounts.
The offer would see the post offices close over a three-year period, with most of these in smaller villages and towns.
Large numbers of older postmasters are anxious to leave the business as they are reaching retirement age and their offices have been hit by a fall in transaction levels.
However, the exit offer has been rejected by the IPU.
The offer was discussed at a special general meeting of the IPU at the weekend.
General secretary Ned O'Hara insisted members at the meeting have not accepted the exit offer.
Any post office where the postmaster accepts an exit deal would be unlikely to reopen.
There have been threats to the future of post offices in Kilmeadan, Co Waterford; Lauragh, Co Kerry; and Old Pallas, Co Limerick.
An Post said the documents presented to the IPU were part of a wider package that have been the subject of negotiations since May.
Any final offer would require An Post's board approval and ministerial approval.