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Tuesday 6 December 2016

An Post contract workers call off industrial action

Alex White
Alex White

Businesses have welcomed the decision by workers in An Post's mail sorting centres to suspend their industrial action, which has caused chaos to the postal service.

Thirty-six workers employed by IO Systems, working as contractors in An Post's four mail sorting centres, had been on strike since midnight last Friday.

The dispute arose from a row with the company's bosses over pay and new rostering arrangements.

However, after an intervention by independent mediator Phil Flynn, the staff have agreed to suspend the action and return to work while the talks continue this afternoon.

The Communications Workers' Union (CWU) said its members will be "reinstated in their jobs at their agreed wage levels and rostering arrangements".

CWU general secretary Steve Fitzpatrick said the union welcomes the company's decision and said they "are prepared to engage".

"However, we hope that IO Systems or indeed An Post management don't squander the opportunity that is being presented," he added.

An Post welcomed the news last night, after a full day of talks between the union and contractors, and said customers can resume posting letters and parcels as normal today.

However, it did warn that it will take "a number of days to restore the normal quality of service levels for mail".

Normal work resumed in mail processing centres last night, and An Post said "any mail on hand will be prioritised for delivery".

Other services that had employed contingency measures during the four-day dispute, including Passport Express, have all resumed as normal.

The staff at the centre of the row are employed by Westmeath firm IO Systems and worked as contractors with An Post as they maintained the sorting machines in the four mail centres in Dublin, Cork, Portlaoise and Athlone.

They were against the company's decision to move its roster from seven days of 12-hour shifts to five days of eight-hour shifts.

They claimed these changes resulted in a financial loss and was equivalent to pay cuts ranging from 6pc to 9pc and even 22pc for some of the 36 staff.

disruption

Lobby group the Small Firms Association (SFA) last night welcomed the end of the industrial action and called on the Government to take measures to ensure the situation does not happen again.

"The action was unnecessary and has caused severe disruption to Ireland's 200,000 small businesses, many of whom were unable to fulfil customer orders and have suffered delayed payments," said SFA director Patricia Callan.

Communications Minister Alex White said his officials monitored the developments, and he welcomed the progress.

"I hope the parties will reach a speedy resolution of all the matters in dispute," he said.

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