Grant Thornton recommends €17m annual Government support for Post Office Network

 

Report says Post Office Network continues to return strong economic and social value

‘Collapse of Post Office Network’ if State support not introduced urgently 

An annual Public Service Obligation (PSO) for the Post Office Network of €17m has been recommended in an independent review by business advisors Grant Thornton.

READ the full Grant Thornton Report.

The report Review of the economic contribution and financial sustainability of the Irish Post Office Network, commissioned by the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU), recommends that the Government invest with urgency in the Post Office Network, as it provides a multi-fold economic and social return to communities, far in excess of the PSO requirement.

The report warns starkly of the need for this action to be taken within months as the Network “faces significant levels of unrestrained closures by the end of 2021”.

“The Irish Post Office Network is at a critical juncture. The financial viability and sustainability of the Network is challenged like never before in its history. Many local Post Offices, large and small, urban and rural, will likely be forced to close if the financial conditions under which they operate do not change in the short-term.”

  • The report projects the annual cost of running the Post Office Network in 2021 at €70m generating a retail revenue of €53m, leaving a €17m shortfall.
  • Average losses of €19,181 are forecast per Post Office per annum from 2021 impacting all Offices small, large, urban and rural.

The report says that PSO models for Post Office Networks are not unusual and have already been introduced in the UK, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Finland and Poland with the approval of the European Commission. The study recommends that Ireland now follow this model.

The report says the shortfall is largely driven by the ongoing transfer of services traditionally delivered by the Network to an ‘online first’ approach and a reduction in traditional mails business.

However, the report says that the Post Office Network remains a highly valuable national asset which contributes far more to the economy than the cost of the PSO:

  • 28% of the population (1.3 million people) continue to use the Post Office every week, including the distribution of €4.6 billion of social welfare related cash
  • Post Offices play a crucial role in spin off support to other local businesses and economies, provide a service for those who are financially or socially excluded, and a difficult to measure but real social contribution to communities
  • Based on a model used in the UK to calculate the social value of the UK Post Office Network, an estimated annual social value of the Irish Post Office Network is €334-€776 million

The report sets out many actions which can be taken to grow new business and transactions at Post Offices, but says none of these would be enough to sustain the Network and “a more direct intervention and support is necessary”.

Post Offices are run by Postmasters who are independent providers of the network under contract to An Post. There are currently 899 Postmaster and 45 An Post operated Post Offices in the country.

Grant Thornton’s conclusions are:

  • Immediate action must be taken to address the current and impending financial crisis for the Post Office Network
  • Recommendations from previous studies, even if implemented, are insufficient to provide the necessary revenue uplift for Postmasters within the timelines considered
  • The only realistic solution that provides the effective and efficient approach necessary within the timelines required is the consideration and approval of an annual Public Service Obligation worth circa €17m to compensate for the projected funding shortfall from 2021 onwards.

The report warns that the problem is due to reach crisis point by mid 2021 as new contract payments paid by An Post to Postmasters end.

“An Post financial supports are unsustainable in anything but the short term. Establishing alternative funding options to maintain a sustainable future for the Post Office Network and for Postmasters is now essential.”

Furthermore, the report identifies COVID-19 as an added difficulty, after Postmasters have reported a 25% reduction in transactions in August 2020 compared to 2019. “COVID-19 undoubtedly places a further strain on the Network due to the dramatically reduced levels of economic activity, changes in the frequency of social welfare payments and the resulting customer footfall which generates vital ancillary revenue streams upon which the Network relies.”

IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said that Postmasters want to stay in business and serve the public long into the future. He said the public favours the Government financially supporting the Network.

“Independent research carried out by RED C in February found that: 91% said their Post Office provided a valuable service to the local community, 86% support the Government providing financial support to keep their Post Office open and 86% want more State services available at their Post Office,” he said.

IPU President Sean Martin said the Government needs to act with urgency – and no further review, report, or working group process is now needed. “We have already had the Bobby Kerr led independent review in 2016, followed by a detailed working group including IPU, An Post and government in 2018. And there has been further review group process in 2020 and now we have a comprehensive financial, economic and social analysis from Grant Thornton.

“A Post Office PSO needs to be sanctioned this year and implemented by mid-2021. We do not have time to delay and do not need further evidence. The level of closures next year is potentially so significant as to mean a collapse of the Irish Post Office Network as we know it.” 

Further Information

Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.

READ the full Grant Thornton Report.

 

Irish Postmasters

Estee Lauder workers strike for second day today

Friday 25 September 2020

UNION REFERS DISPUTE TO LABOUR COURT

40 Estee Lauder workers in Dublin Airport are on strike for a second time today (Friday, 25th September) as they seek to prevent compulsory redundancies and stop the company rehiring workers on inferior terms and conditions of employment.

The strike will take place from 7am at the Dublin Airport roundabout.

Mandate say workers should be afforded the principle of voluntary rather than compulsory redundancy but the terms of the redundancy package must be negotiated including the selection criteria.

The Union also wishes to negotiate the terms & conditions of those employees who remain in the business.

Estee Lauder are insisting on implementing compulsory redundancies on statutory terms of two weeks pay per year of service.

Mandate Divisional Organiser Robert McNamara said: “It is regrettable that a company the size of Estee Lauder would force their workers to strike for a second day rather than offer them the respect they deserve. All it would take to prevent this strike is for the company to sit down and negotiate with the workers through their trade union.”

He added, “We’ve been left with no alternative but to refer this dispute to the Labour Court and ask for an urgent hearing.”

Mr McNamara concluded: “We had huge support from the public last week and we’d like to thank them for it. These workers know that the public is on their side and we’re all extremely grateful for it. The actions of Estee Lauder management denying workers their rights is not a good look for a cosmetic firm.”

The View From a Front Line Worker in Belfast.

It’s been six months since the Coronavirus pandemic began and with the Government Furlough scheme being reduced from 1st September employees may start to return to work in the coming weeks. Given the nature of my job, I work on the streets with people who are homeless, I was classed as a front line worker and therefore worked through the last six months, albeit in a reduced capacity. From the start I was paired up with a co-worker who I would work with on shift for the foreseeable future. for further reading click on this link

 

 

 

Congress withdraws from Low Pay Commission

Congress withdraws from Low Pay Commission

22 Sep 2020

pay

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has announced it has withdrawn from the Government established Low Pay Commission.

Commenting on the decision, Patricia King, ICTU General Secretary said “we have been engaged in extensive discussion at the Low Pay Commission on proposed changes to the National Minimum Wage to be issued to the government for consideration. It became very clear to myself and Gerry Light General Secretary of Mandate, this evening that other members of the Commission were not prepared to propose an increase for 2021 beyond 1%, i.e. 10 cent. We could not in conscience be party to any recommendation that did not afford the lowest-paid workers in the Republic of Ireland an increase in excess of 2% similar to other sectors in our economy”.

Patricia King said,”if we have learned anything as a society in this pandemic it is that we must value work and those who carry it out. We must make work pay. Many of the workers on the minimum wage form part of the cadre of essential workers who have helped keep our economy going through this Covid-19 pandemic. It is therefore completely unacceptable that they and other workers who are the lowest paid in this state would not be afforded decency and fairness by receiving a modest minimum 2% increase in the National Minimum Wage”.

“The lowest paid in our society suffered disproportionately during the last recession and we won’t be party to a process that leaves them behind. Therefore it is with regret, but with clarity that we can no longer be part of this Low Pay Commission. There can be no going back to the old ways where the lowest paid are left behind. We will continue to campaign through other fora for a just increase,” said the General Secretary.

Aramark staff mount unofficial picket after receiving week’s notice of job loss

Aramark staff mount unofficial picket after receiving week’s notice of job loss see report from the Irish Times   

Catering staff at the former Allied Irish Bank (AIB) headquarters in Ballsbridge, Dublin say they were “dumped after years of loyalty” when given just a week’s notice earlier this month that their “jobs were gone”.

Kitchen and restaurant staff, who remained working at the restaurant after AIB moved most of its workforce to a new headquarters in the city-centre in 2019, have mounted an unofficial picket at the site.

While their union Siptu says 12 members are involved, their employer Aramark say only eight are involved in the redundancy claim. They say although their dispute is with Aramark, a multi-national firm to which AIB outsourced its catering service in 2018, they are looking to their former employer for support.

They say AIB had assured them their terms and conditions would “transfer with” them to their new employer. They accuse the bank of “reneging” on its commitments.

They are seeking at least the voluntary-redundancy terms agreed in 2012, of two weeks’ pay per year worked, plus three weeks. As these are compulsory redundancies, they are arguing for two weeks plus four.

Siptu shop steward Johnny Glynn (61) said staff were told last year the kitchens would close at the end of November 2020. Earlier this year they were told October 31st.

“Then on Friday 4th September they gave us all a letter saying the kitchen was closing on Friday 11th, our jobs were gone. A week’s notice.”

Talks at the Workplace Relations Commission last Wednesday broke down. The union has applied for an urgent hearing at the Labour Court.

Siptu organiser Brendan Carr said the dispute remained unofficial as the union had not been given enough notice by Aramark to ballot for industrial action.

“I hope we get a date quickly at the Labour Court. We’ll see what recommendation comes out of that. If the workers don’t accept it then we will have to talk about what official action we take.”

Mr Glynn, a chef de partie working at AIB for 12 years, said: “We find it terrible that AIB has reneged on its deals with us. Aramark are our employer, yes, but we were promised our terms and conditions came with us. We feel we have been dumped and in the end all the loyalty we have shown has counted for nothing.

“These two companies have multi-billion euro turnovers and we are here having to scrap over a few weeks’ pay.”

Acting head chef Chris Traynor (38) who worked in the AIB restaurant for 22 years, feels he has been “treated without dignity . . . I have spent all my working life here, and this is how I’m treated”.

An AIB spokesman said: “Any queries about catering staff employed by Aramark should be directed to Aramark”.

A spokeswoman for Aramark said: “We are disappointed with the actions of a small number of employees who are engaged in unofficial protest at AIB Bank Centre. Several means of formal dispute resolution have been pursued with Siptu, including the WRC. Aramark firmly believes that the redundancy package offered is more than fair in the Covid trading environment which has greatly affected our operations in Ireland. ” Aramark made pre-tax losses of €16.2 million for the 12 months ending September 27th, 2019..

Estee Lauder workers in Dublin Airport to strike on Monday, 21st and Friday, 25th September

Estee Lauder workers in Dublin Airport are to participate in two days of industrial action this week as they attempt to prevent compulsory redundancies and stop the company rehiring workers on inferior terms and conditions of employment.

The strike will involve 40 workers and will take place from 5am on Monday 21st and then Friday 25th of September at the Dublin Airport roundabout.

Mandate say workers should be afforded the principle of voluntary rather than compulsory redundancy but the terms of the redundancy package must be negotiated including the selection criteria.

The Union also wishes to negotiate the terms & conditions of those employees who remain in the business.

Estee Lauder are insisting on implementing compulsory redundancies on statutory terms of two weeks pay per year of service.

Mandate Divisional Organiser Robert McNamara said: “Estee Lauder need to have respect for their workers. That means they should negotiate with the workers through their trade union and implement a package that’s fair for everyone concerned.”

He added, “The fact the company is attempting to make workers apply for their own jobs on inferior terms should be a concern for everyone. If Estee Lauder, one of the largest and most profitable enterprises on the planet, can treat their workers this appallingly, then it can happen to anyone.

Mr McNamara concluded: “Regrettably, the only way these workers can prevent their company from implementing these regressive measures is by going on strike, which they shouldn’t have to do.”

Working from home: Beware

The World Federation of Trade Unions, the, the world’s class-oriented, progressive trade union movement, considers the achievements of technology to be very important and positive, given that they are used to improve and facilitate the lives of workers and the peoples, such as in modern health care, improved working conditions in the workplaces etc.

   Tele-working, working from home, which increased greatly during the COVID-19 Pandemic in all countries, could be considered as one of the achievements of progress and technology.

    However, tele-working had a negative effect on the working conditions of the workers, such as the increase of the workload, the demand of the employers that the employee be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the non-provision of internet connection and necessary software, the non-provision of free ergonomic equipment by the companies (suitable chairs, large screens, etc.), the costs of which are borne by the employees. Also, through tele-working, workers work in isolation from their colleagues, with negative effects on trade union action, on the organization of their claims but also on their mood and psychology. Work from home makes it impossible to control violations by the employer, e.g. forced or unpaid overtime, since inspections by the labor inspectorate are not carried out.  In the event of an accident at work while tele-working, the employee is alone and helpless at home, while it is much easier for employers to hide the nature of the accident as an occupational one and escape their responsibilities.

   There have even been demands from companies to install cameras in the homes of “tele-workers” to monitor all their movements, leading to a complete violation of their basic rights and dignity.

   On the occasion of the Pandemic, governments seek to generalize and legalize this form of work, making it a form of work that employers can impose unilaterally, and for as long as they wish, or on a permanent basis, reducing their operating expenses and intensifying the exploitation of workers.

   In the IT, education, health, banking and other sectors, governments aim to maintaining tele-working after the end of the Pandemic. In countries like India, tele-medicine is also being promoted, of course not as an aid and complement to modern, public and free health care for all, but as a “stopgap” in the face of huge, tragic shortcomings in health structures and the consequences of these shortcomings, that workers have been violently experiencing during the Pandemic.

    The militant trade unions of all countries must oppose these plans of governments and employers, which are part of the broader plan for workers and the poor to pay for the effects of the Pandemic and the lockdowns on economy, for the new economic crisis.

      Regarding tele-working and the generalized attack on workers’ rights, the WFTU highlights the demands that can ensure our health and rights:

  • To ensure the job positions of all workers with all the necessary protection measures in the workplaces.
  • Free tests for workers, no COVID-19 cases silenced in the workplaces.
  • Implementation of the Health Protocols.
  • No negative changes in the terms and conditions of work of workers, in their rights, in the name of dealing with the pandemic.
  • Emergency paid leave for those workers who need to stay home, either for the care of children or patients, or for measures related to dealing with the pandemic (eg closing buildings for disinfection, etc.).
  • If for any reason an employee cannot work in the workplace, in guaranteed health and safety conditions, with the responsibility of the state and the employer to take leave with full pay and insurance.
  • Adequate disinfectants for cleaning hands and surfaces for workers who have daily contact with the public, but also measures for disinfection and proper use of the tools of work, e.g. headphones, keyboards, etc.
  • Staffing of public hospitals with all the necessary health personnel and equipment, for the treatment of the Pandemic and all other diseases and for their prevention.

  On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the WFTU, on October 3, 2020, let us strengthen our fight for our modern rights, with the militant workers of WFTU at the forefront of the struggle, worthy successors of its militant action and history.

ASTI to ballot on industrial action


met today and decided to ballot its members in relation to a number of key issues which have emerged since schools re-opened.

 

The meeting heard that ASTI members have serious concerns about the health and safety of school communities. Issues raised include:

 

  • Physical distancing in schools
  • Provision of PPE
  • The definition of close contacts
  • Comprehensive testing and testing turnaround times
  • Provisions for high risk teachers
  • IT resources for students and teachers to facilitate remote teaching/ learning

 

“The fact that high risk teachers have been asked to work in crowded classroom is unacceptable to us as a trade union,” ASTI President Ann Piggott said today. “The safety of students and their teachers must be the priority.”

 

Ms Piggott said teachers are reporting that new work practices are being implemented without any consultation with school staff. “It is unthinkable that at a time when teachers have demonstrated tremendous commitment to their students and to keeping education going, that schools would introduce work changes which have a further negative impact on teachers’ working lives. This smacks of crisis opportunism and cannot go unchallenged.”

 

The ASTI ballot will also cover the difficulties faced by returning teachers who are being forced to work precarious contracts and those enduring unequal pay.

Congress demands “action not sympathy” for Debenhams workers

16 Sep 2020

debenhams

THE Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has reiterated its full support for the official strike action by Debenhams workers, members of Mandate trade union. Congress is demanding Government intervention to break the deadlock in the dispute. Gerry Light, General Secretary, Mandate updated Council members on the ongoing dispute at its meeting today.

Mandate Trade Union had negotiated a redundancy package for Debenhams staff in 2016 which included four weeks’ pay per year of service. However, when the company entered liquidation earlier this year, the liquidator reported that there were no assets to pay their 1,000 staff leaving them with statutory redundancy of 2 weeks’ pay per year of service. Executive Council members urged An Taoiseach to introduce legislation to protect terms and conditions of employment in the event of receivership.

General Secretary Patricia King said the government “must offer more than sympathy to the Debenhams workers”. She called on public representatives to support “the ongoing attempts by Mandate and Congress to find a resolution to the situation in which workers find themselves.”

She said: “Proposals put forward jointly by Congress and Mandate are intended to address the concerns of Mandate and its members in this trade dispute immediately, based on well-established international best practice. The resolution of this dispute requires legislative change and we call on all Oireachtas members to take the necessary steps to ensure this happens forthwith. The best interests of the workers will only be served by swift political action, not sympathy, platitudes, or political point-scoring. Congress and Mandate will continue to make ourselves available to discuss and expand on  any details of our proposal. “

Review of Adult Critical Care Services in the Twenty Six Counties

Further to a letter in today Irish Times. Trade Union Left Forum have a copy of the report in a review of Adult Critical Care Services from 2009 and now over eleven years it is a damming inditement of various governments in relation our people’s health care. 

 

In the letter from the Irish Times today Thursday 17th Nov 2020 the letter writer ( an intensive-care consultant states the following)

It is ironic and instructive to reflect on a report commissioned by the then-government in 2008 from management consultants Prospectus.

Completed in 2009, it defined existing and anticipated ICU bed capacity in Ireland. Guided by some of Ireland and Europe’s foremost authorities on critical care, it described a system which had badly configured ICU beds, and a seriously insufficient capacity.

The report was completed in 2009, but not made available to the public for some years after that. It is by now easily available online.

Many of us who are now intensive-care consultants were trainee doctors at that time, and worked voluntarily to collate the raw data. It outlined a plan to boost national ICU capacity from its then total of 289 to 579, along with the closure of a number of facilities to allow centralisation of their resources to medium and large centres.

The irony in this comes from the fact that the remit of the Prospectus report on critical-care capacity is defined as “to identify the future requirements up to the year 2020”.

By the time this year started, national ICU bed capacity was essentially the same as in 2008. – Yours, etc,