An Post condemned for postal shutdown over strike by outsourced workers
Union chiefs have blasted as "bizarre and reckless" a country-wide shut down of postal services over a row involving 33 outsourced workers.
An Post claims it has no option but to urge people not to mail any letters or parcels across Ireland until further notice.
It says strike action by one of their suppliers - IO Systems - has crippled its nationwide delivery services.
"Due to the withdrawal of labour by staff of IO Systems, we are unable to process mail for delivery to customers," a spokeswoman said.
IO Systems workers maintain equipment at sorting offices in Dublin, Cork, Portlaoise and Athlone.
Around 33 of the outsourced staff who are members of the Communications' Workers Union (CWU) have gone on strike in a dispute with their bosses about pay and rostering.
But the CWU said An Post is still able to deliver a service.
The trade union rejected what it described as the "blackmailing" of postal workers by An Post with its "bizarre decision" to shut down the country's postal system.
In a sign of a further escalation of the row, CWU general secretary Steve Fitzpatrick warned workers would not back down "in the face of this provocation".
"The decision of the company to close mail services is bizarre and reckless and will have long term damaging consequences for postal services in Ireland and industrial relations at the company," he said.
Mr Fitzpatrick said the "irrational action" of An Post to escalate this dispute would threaten an 850 million euro business to save 100,000 euro in wages.
"We are appalled that well paid An Post executives are supporting IO Systems management in seeking to cut wages and consign IO Systems workers to permanent night work without proper recognition in their pay and conditions," he added.
"Severe amnesia has clearly set in among management at the Company who have quickly forgotten the sacrifice in time, money and working conditions that postal workers have made to keep the company afloat during the technology revolution and the traumatic and devastating economic depression."
The Department of Social Protection said it has made alternative arrangements to deliver payment cheques to claimants, should the industrial dispute run into next week.