UP to 20,000 people have been left without a postal service for the last two days after 18 postal workers refused to begin work at a new €1m sorting office.
The An Post mail staff began the unofficial action after they failed to report for work this week at the new sorting and delivery office in Newcastle West, Co Limerick.
They previously worked in post offices across west Limerick and were meant to begin work in the new facility on Monday.
Despite requests by the Irish Independent, the postal workers declined to explain the reason for their unofficial action.
It is believed the workers were last night in discussion with their union about the ongoing dispute.
As a result of the action, all affected customers in west Limerick were left with no postal service or had to travel to the new sorting office to collect their mail.
The new facility in the west Limerick town merges the local delivery offices into one centre.
Previously, 11 of the workers were based in the Newcastle West post office, four were working in the Rathkeale office, two in Athea and one in Shanagolden.
An Post is appealing to the 18 staff members to return to work and is working in co-operation with the Communications Workers Union (CWU) to restore full services as quickly as possible.
Local Fianna Fail councillor Michael Collins said there was a fear that the new sorting and delivery centre would lead to a closure of rural post offices in west Limerick.
"People fear their services will be diluted further with this move," Mr Collins said.
However, a spokesman for An Post said the new centre would have no impact on post offices in the region.
This development is designed to improve mail services in the area through consolidation of staff and resources. Mail times will remain as before as will retail services throughout the area. Mail can still be posted at the local post office; there is no impact whatsoever on post offices in west Limerick," the spokesman said.
It is hoped that staff will return to work this morning.
An Post's operations manager, Michael Reilly, said: "It is difficult to see why staff have sought to disrupt such a worthwhile effort at a time when full opening of the mails market is less than a year away."