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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Fears post strike will escalate as mail-ban issued

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The postal service is in disarray for a fourth day as strike action at sorting centres escalates.

 An Post has been forced to warn customers not to mail anything again today.

Thirty-six workers at the firm's mail centres are employed by IO Systems but are retained by An Post to operate postal processing machinery at centres in Dublin, Cork, Portlaoise and Athlone.

There are fears that some of An Post's 9,500 workers could be put on protective notice due to the lack of work. Their union said it will ballot for industrial action if this happens.

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) has said its members in IO Systems are taking part in industrial action due to a decision by the company to cut pay and change rosters.

The CWU said there is a Labour Court binding determination which sets the rate of pay and the attendance pattern.

However, IO Systems chief Fergal Lynam denied this and said the dispute has been ongoing for over two years. Contract changes were due to a drop in volumes at An Post, he said.

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Mr Lynam said a Labour Court determination in February gave the company the right to change rosters and shift premiums.

But CWU national officer Sean McDonagh acknowledged that both sides were interpreting the Labour Court's recommendation differently and said they would be asking the Labour Court to clarify.

A spokesperson for An Post said they are "hugely concerned" by the ongoing dispute.

"We are regretfully advising customers not to post while this action is under way," they said.

Services that rely on An Post have been forced to make alternative arrangements.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is urging customers to postpone submitting applications for passports while the service remains suspended but they will facilitate applications made in drop-off boxes.

Department of Social Protection cheques will be available to collect in social welfare offices if the industrial action continues.

Post Offices will remain open and all other services offered will continue to be available.

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