Belfast Telegraph

An Post mail sorting centres strike called off for talks

The four day strike at An Post mail sorting centres has been called off.

The Communications Workers' Union (CWU) took the move after agreeing to reopen talks on new rosters and potential pay cuts with IO Systems, the company which employs the striking workers.

It is understood the negotiations will open tomorrow.

The 36 IO Systems employees agreed to go back to work with the company putting them on the old rosters which included weekend shifts and bigger premium rates for working out of ordinary hours.

They have been on strike since midnight last Thursday in the increasingly bitter dispute over revised Monday-Friday rosters and reduced premium rates and changes in shift patterns.

The striking workers operate and maintain sorting machines in four mail centres in Dublin, Cork, Portlaoise and Athlone on a contract for An Post.

They claimed the roster changes were the equivalent to pay cuts ranging from 6%, to 9%, to 22% for some of the 36 staff.

The CWU said industrial relations troubleshooter Phil Flynn had been involved in mediation and was expected to chair new talks.

Union general secretary Steve Fitzpatrick said: "We welcome the decision of the company to re-instate its workers to their agreed rostering arrangements and wage levels.

"As we have consistently stated, we are prepared to engage, but only on the basis that workers at IO Systems have their jobs restored to their agreed wage levels and rosters.

"We are also prepared to back Phil Flynn's intervention in good faith. However, we hope that IO Systems, or indeed An Post management, don't squander the opportunity that is being presented."

Fergal Lynam, IO Systems chief executive, said he was prepared to join discussions that would lead to a binding resolution from mediators.

"I'm prepared to take whatever I get," he said.

"I do not want to go back on the merry go round that the unions will put you on to."

An Post had urged customers not to post letters or parcels last Friday and again today although insisted it was business as usual for all other over the counter services, including bill payments and welfare collection, at its national network of post offices.

An Post are expected to get the postal system up and running tomorrow with collections resuming and deliveries being made.

There could be up to five million letters and parcels waiting to be sorted in the mail backlog.

Alex White, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, said: "On Friday, and again this morning, I called on the parties to focus their efforts on finding a resolution that quickly ends the disruption to postal services.

"I welcome the progress that has now been made and I hope that the parties will reach a speedy resolution of all the matters in dispute."

An Post said n ormal services were resuming.

"Customers may resume posting letters and parcels tomorrow," the company said in a brief statement.

"Normal working will resume this evening in mail processing centres and any mail on hand will be prioritised for delivery."

An Post said it will take a number of days for normal mail services to resume but Department of Social Protection cheque payments by mail and passport express services will resume immediately.


From Belfast Telegraph