Government commitment to school secretaries welcomed- Forsa

Fórsa welcomes ‘breakthrough moment in a decades-long inequality’ and says early progress essential to avert planned industrial action

Fórsa trade union, which represents more than 1,000 school secretaries in primary and secondary schools nationwide, has welcomed comments made in the Dáil today (Thursday) by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, confirming the current Government’s objective to regularise employment, terms, conditions and pension rights for school secretaries.

The comments come the day after the union confirmed it would serve notice of industrial action next week to over 1,000 individual schools and the Department of Education and Skills (DES). The continuing dispute with the DES is due to a long standing two-tier pay system that leaves most school secretaries earning just €12,500 a year, with irregular, short-term contracts that force them to sign on during the summer holidays and other school breaks.

This is something of a breakthrough moment in a decades-long inequality which school secretaries and caretakers have been striving to correct for many years.

 

During leader’s questions, in response to a question by independent TD Seán Canney, the Tánaiste said: “The government really does value the essential work that’s done by school secretaries and school caretakers. Very often the school secretary is the first person you meet on the way in to a school, and the caretaker is the last person to leave in the evening.

“Schools would not operate without them, and I think that the role they play in our education system is as important as that played by school teachers, SNAs and school principals.

“For that reason, it is the objective of this government to regularise their employment, their terms and conditions and their pension rights as well. But that can only be done going forward, it can’t be done retrospectively,” he said.

The Tánaiste added that regularising the terms of employment for school secretaries would need to be done by agreement and by engagement and said  officials in the department were considering Fórsa’s request for a referral of the dispute to the Labour Court.

 

Responding to the Tánaiste’s comments, Fórsa’s head of education Andy Pike said: “This is something of a breakthrough moment in a decades-long inequality which school secretaries and caretakers have been striving to correct for many years.

“Now that we have this commitment on the Dáil record, our question is how soon will officials act to make this a reality for these vital school staff? Our members have readied themselves for industrial action.

They’ve heard all manner of political promises before. A solid commitment from the Government is a genuine breakthrough, but we will need to see progress, and we will need to see it soon, if the planned industrial action is to be averted,” he said.

School secretaries plan to hold three one-day work stoppages on Friday 23rd October, Monday 2nd November and Friday 13th November, this will be followed by an indefinite strike commencing from Monday 16th November. Notice is to be served to schools and the DES next Thursday (15th October).

The Tánaiste added that regularising the terms of employment for school secretaries would need to be done by agreement “and by engagement” and said  officials in the department were considering Fórsa’s request for a referral of the dispute to the Labour Court. He described the plans for industrial action as “regrettable.”

Watch: The exchange between Seán Canney TD and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on the question of school secretaries can be viewed HERE. See segment recording 11.58 to 12.58. The relevant question in that section is posed by Seán Canney TD at 22m:19s.

Mandate condemns legal action by Debenhams liquidator

Thursday 8 October 2020

Mandate Trade Union has said the joint liquidators of Debenhams, KPMG, in seeking High Court injunctions against three striking workers who are demanding the implementation of their agreed redundancy package was both regrettable and totally avoidable.

Mandate General Secretary Gerry Light said these workers are law-abiding and are simply demanding what is owed to them.

“It should never have come to this. These workers should have had the protections of the law, but sadly our government refused to back the Debenhams workers and now they’re being intimidated by means of High Court injunctions.

“If the government parties had supported the Joan Collins motion two weeks ago and agreed to implement the necessary legislation to allow these workers, and all other workers, access to their redundancy entitlements, we would not be in this situation,” said Mr Light.

“Instead, they’ve allowed our members to stand on 24 hour pickets in all sorts of weather for 182 days. So the blame lies with the current and previous governments, but it’s not too late, they can make these legislative changes next week if the political will was there.”

Mr Light explained how the union had spoken to the workers concerned and to a number of other members who were frightened, but say they will not be intimidated.

“It’s always frightening for a worker who has abided by the law their whole lives to be served with legal papers late in the evening because of the actions of their employer, and the inaction of the government. They deserve better than to be treated like this.”

Mandate is calling on all parties, particularly the government parties, to speed up the process of finding a political solution to this dispute which will be six months old tomorrow.

“We will be attending a Business Committee hearing in the Oireachtas next Tuesday to discuss this situation and we will be making it very clear that the Debenhams workers and all other workers in the state are deserving of respect. That means urgent action from the government.”

Commenting on the actions of Mandate members on picket lines, Mr Light said:

“It is our contention that the pickets are and have always been lawful until proven otherwise.”

What is the 1990 Industrial Relations Act? Abolish it NOW

What is the 1990 industrial relations act?
Debenhams workers have been charged for alleged breaches to the 1990 Industrial Relations Act. This is the state acting to break their resistance.
Next step, the heavy gang, the enforcers of the injunctions, the private balaclava’d security firm, backed up by the state, the Gardaí
The 1990 act is the worst dilution of workers’ rights in the history of this state it gives all the power to employers & decimates workers’ power.
The 1990 act is the state attacking workers’ rights, the citizens, in favour of business rights, the ruling class.

 

The Industrial Relations Act (1990) was introduced on 18 July 1990, replacing the Trade Disputes Act (1906), the main principle of which was that anything done in a trade dispute, provided it was not illegal in itself, would be free from criminal and civil liability.

The 1990 act was introduced as a control mechanism on trade unions. It was a response to equivalent legislation being introduced in Britain because of increasing levels of industrial unrest and strikes, as dissatisfaction rose during the 1970s and 80s when the post-war gains made by workers under social democracy were slashed. Unions were being softened as they became cosy with the state under “social partnership,” and allowed it to be introduced with a minimum of fuss.

Among some unions there were serious issues with many parts of the act, covering political strikes, secondary pickets, individual workers’ rights, and the change in requirements covering strike ballots; but the act was passed and accepted. Reassurances and guarantees were given by the then minister for labour, Bertie Ahern (a former union official), who was regarded as a friend and sympathetic to workers’ rights. This has not proved to be the case, as his guarantees have proved to be about as reliable as his memory over his financial affairs.

The act introduced many changes to the accepted norms of industrial relations up to that time.

The definition of a worker was very loose and left self-employed and contract workers vulnerable, with the “gig economy” and bogus self-employment on the rise. This is something that has huge implications today.

In single-worker disputes the individual worker is very vulnerable, as all agreed procedures must be exhausted before action is taken. So the issue has to be dealt with first by a rights commissioner, the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Relations Commission before collective action is taken. This could take months, if not years; and there will be no guarantee of reinstatement at the end.

This leads to individual workers being at a huge disadvantage, which strikes at the very heart of the trade union principle of “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

Political strikes are banned. This would rule out tax marches. It would rule illegal the strike by the ten brave workers in Dunne’s Stores who stood up to the South African apartheid regime by not handling South African goods in 1984. (Even Ben Dunne has said of this strike that, on reflection, you cannot defend the indefensible.) It rules out a similar action against Israeli products today.

The CIE companies are very vulnerable in this regard, as during the dispute in 2015 over the selling off of 10 per cent of the service to private operators the implication by the Government was that this was deemed a political issue. With more of this coming down the line in the three CIE companies, it is an industrial minefield. It will also have huge implications for the ESB and all state-sector workers as the spectre of privatisation hovers over Ireland.

Secondary picketing and support strikes are also banned. During the Bus Éireann dispute recently it was the secondary picketing on Dublin Bus and Irish Rail depots that eventually forced the company to the negotiating table; but this was illegal and could have been very expensive for the trade unions involved.

A secret ballot of all members must be carried out before a strike can take place, and seven days’ notice must be given to the employer involved. The executive of the union has the final say on whether a strike is to go ahead in the case of a majority vote in favour, but there is no similar authority where a minority vote for strike.

Some industrial disputes require immediate action and can’t wait for the seven days’ notice required. This could happen in the case of a health and safety issue, when immediate action might be needed in the interests of workers’ safety. The recent situation with Clery’s department store required immediate action, but this was not available to the workers in question.

Sit-ins are also illegal.

These are all weapons whose use (or even the threat of their use) workers no longer have available to them. This weakens workers’ power and strengthens employers.

Judicial interpretation of what is a strike and what is a legal ballot or dispute are the essence of the 1990 act. The possibilities for litigation are endless. The decision is put in the hands of the judiciary, who have never been friends of workers. Strikes and industrial action can be delayed for weeks, which allows employers to take action to lessen the effect of the strike.

There is a willingness and an ability by employers to sue unions and officials for loss of income caused by industrial action, which has been made possible under the 1990 act. Under the 1906 act this was not possible, as unions were deemed exempt from such action. This is a huge weakening of the labour movement.

Trade unions act to promote values of social solidarity and to provide a check on the socially corrosive effects of the markets and individualism. The 1990 act is the worst dilution of workers’ rights in the history of this state. It facilities employers and gives them the power to question how ballots are carried out. A ballot was purely an internal matter for a trade union, but not according to the 1990 act.

In a survey in 1997 of union officials, 73 per cent said that the 1990 act was a mistake that should not have been accepted in its present form.

With pay and conditions under attack, rising inequality, and poverty at crisis levels, for workers to defend themselves in this neo-liberal climate we need to repeal the 1990 act and to strengthen workers’ power, and bring a bit of pride and solidarity back among workers if the trade union movement is to survive.

People in struggle gain class-consciousness from that struggle. It’s time for the trade union movement to fight back against the class war being waged against us. To do this we need to tip the balance of power from capital to labour. The first step is to repeal the 1990 act, and the equivalent anti-union legislation in the North.

Unions must become radical or become redundant.

 

International Solidarity: Indonesia.

Thousands of students, workers protest new Indonesian law.

BANDUNG, Indonesia — Thousands of Indonesian students and workers protested on Wednesday against a new law they say will cripple labor rights and harm the environment, with some clashing with police. One student was apparently shot.

Authorities in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, blocked streets leading to the local parliament building and city hall, where clashes between rock-throwing students and riot police broke out late Tuesday when police tried to disperse the protesters.

On Wednesday, more than 3,000 protesters, including workers and high school and university students, attempted to reach the heavily guarded parliament building. Protesters set fires to tires near blocked streets and pelted police with rocks and gasoline bombs and broke down a gate of the parliament compound. Riot police responded by firing tear gas and water cannons.

Smaller protests also occurred in other Indonesian cities, including in Jakarta’s satellite cities of Tangerang and Bekasi where large factories are located, and many cities on Sumatra and Sulawesi islands.

The protest in Bekasi turned violent in the afternoon, with a video obtained by The Associated Press showing a student collapsing three meters (yards) from a police barricade after a gunshot was heard. Other students carried him away, and his condition was unclear.

National Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said riot police used only tear gas and rubber bullets in dispersing the protesters. He said authorities are still investigating the violence in Bekasi in which both students and police were injured.

Yuwono urged protesters to convey their views in an orderly and good mannered way, and always wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Thousands of workers from factories in West Java’s Karawang city and Serang town in Banten province also protested outside their factories. For more information click here

100 days of Neo Liberal Troika

The FF, FG, Green government is now just over 100 days old. 

Here are some of the chaos that has ensued. 

29th of June citizens dealt a blow as Daragh O Brien is appointed as housing minister his record on housing thus far. 

🚨2016 opposed rent certainty

🚨2016 opposed Focus Ireland amendment

🚨2017 opposed Right to Housing

🚨2018 facilitated failed ‘Housing Budget’

🚨2019 facilitated ‘confidence’ in E Murphy

 

6th of July they were considering extending breast screening from two to three years putting women’s lives at risk

 

7th of July Éamonn Ryan says “our priority are travel agents not people who booked holidays.

 

8th of July, Longford-Westmeath TD Joe Flaherty apologised for giving a character reference to three brothers as “extremely capable, very sharp and more than familiar with hard work” in a letter submitted during a trial for violent disorder. There homes were raided by CAB and assets seized. 

 

14th July Minister for Agriculture sacked for drink driving on a provisional licence and attempting to avoid a Garda checkpoint.

 

15th of July The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC) prepare the ground to lower expectations on retirement age by announcing we will have to work till 69.

 

17th of July Éamonn Ryan sleeps through Daíl debate on workers rights.

 

18th July Minister for education Norma Foley says “Your child’s leaving certs grades will depend on their “socio economic status”

 

19th July Cancer campaigner Ruth Morrissey(39) has lost her battle and sadly died as a result of the misreading of her cervical smear test.

 

 

23rd July  €21million of taxpayers money paid to the private operator of the Limerick Tunnel because traffic levels didn’t reach those expected.

 

30th July Dáil takes 6 weeks holidays and TDs get a 2% pay rise. 

 

30th July it emerges that 9 homeless people have died on the streets of Dublin over the last 14 days.

 

31st July construction unions begin national ballot for strike action yo defend their sectoral employment order.

 

August 5th 

Government support Employers at the expense of workers as Minister Heather Humphreys secured Government approval to extend the suspension of redundancy provisions until September 17th.

 

August 7th atrocious conditions in Meat factories and direct provision centres are exposed after multiple outbreaks of Covid-19.

 

August 10th after months of sitting on the fence the wearing of masks is made compulsory in shops.

 

After huge pressure from unions weekly Covid-19 tests to be carried out at meat plants.

 

August 12th 

48 Senators awarded €240,000 in attendance & subsistence payments for April & May, despite the Seanad being closed at that time on top of their €68,000 salary. 

 

August 15th Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien & Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell were quick to take to social media blaming a fire in a migrant family’s home in Balbriggan on recent antisocial and criminal behaviour in the town. This was a lie started by far-right elements. They later took it down.

 

August 19th INMO ballots 1000 nurses for industrial action at University Hospital Limerick after management’s “refusal” to attend talks at the Workplace Relations Commision.

 

August 20th #golfgate

 

August 21st minister for agriculture Dara Calleary resigns over attending Golfgate 

He is still a TD & paid €96,189 a year plus expenses & pensions entitlements. 

Jerry Buttimer resigned as Leas Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. He is still a senator paid €68,111 a year plus expenses & pensions entitlements.

 

August 27th EU Commissioner is forced to resigns over Golfgate and multiple breaches of Covid-19 regulations. He retires on a pension of €107,000 a year and an EU Golden handshake of €441,000. 

 

August 28th it emerges that ROBERT RYAN , is the BROTHER of Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Robert is a director and CO-OWNER of Medmark the occupational health company first contracted by the Dept of Education to carry out medical assessments at a cost to the taxpayer of€1million a year the last time the Greens were in government in 2008.

 

August 30th While everyone was watching #golfgate. The €3 Billion National Broadband Plan contract was published. Denis O’Brien’s Actavo & American businessman David McCourt’s National Broadband Ireland, are the main contractors. The original estimate was €500m.

 

August 31st schools reopen amid huge concerns around the health & safety of teachers pupils and staff. 53 schools have closed in the North & Scotland due to covid-19 outbreaks just one week after reopening.

 

August 31st Thiago Cortes a young Deliveroo worker was killed following a hit and run on while delivering pizzas on a bicycle.

 

September 2nd Meat Barons refuse to engage with unions in the sector on a deal for sick pay terms for workers.

 

September 4th Brown Thomas & Arnott’s agree to pay 5 Weeks per years service + bonus for staff with 21 years service in redundancy agreement with Union

Meanwhile Debenhams workers are 150 days in dispute after Debenhams renege on agreement to pay staff 4 weeks redundancy pay & lay staff off via email. This is not illegal.

 

September 8th Debenhams workers Occupy stores in Cork & Dublin to force government intervention.

 

September 12th Government hire Teneo a PR firm to avoid confusion around Covid messaging and to help with the launch of next week’s medium-term Covid plan.The founder chairman and CEO of Teneo is Declan Kelly brother of Labour TD Alan Kelly.

 

September 19th ASTI to ballot members  who have serious concerns about the health and safety of school communities.

 

September 19th leaving cert results in chaos. 

 

September 20th  On Sunday August 30th the day before schools opened there were 40 cases of Covid-19Three weeks later On Sunday 20th of September there were 396 cases

 

September 21st Dublin goes back to stage 3 lockdown.

 

September 22nd Ten new advisers appointed this time for junior ministers. 

At a cost to the taxpayer €67,659 – €78,816 each.

 

September 24th Breege O Donoghue a former board member of Failté Ireland who resigned after a trip to Spain has been reinstated  to the role of chair of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland after writing to the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

 

September 25th it emerges Eamonn Ryan has 9 special advisors who are entitled to principal officer salaries of between €87,325 and €101,114. 

 

September 26th The Government’s has appointed a total of 64 special advisors at a cost to the taxpayer of €15m. There is no criteria or interview process, most are party members, or journalists all are in the Golden Circle.

 

September 29th Bus Éireann announce they are to end expressway routes between Dublin &, Galway, Limerick, Belfast & Cork

The government are using the pandemic as a means to privatise public services.

 

October 1st Senior ministers warn there will be no €5 increase for pensioners in the budget

 

October 3rd supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe is exonerated by ex supreme Court judge Denham for attending golf gate.

 

October 5th The whole Country is on the  verge of returning to level 5 lockdown 

 

100 days of abject failure. 

Fórsa to meet HSE on winter plan

Fórsa says additional resources for health professionals, social care services and supports to frontline staff will be needed to make a success of the HSE’s new winter plan, which was launched earlier this month.

The union says it supports the plans aimed to increase community health capacity and reduce demand on hospital services to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and make progress on a central pillar of the Sláintecare programme.

But its head of health, Éamonn Donnelly, said it would fail without a “structured and defined funding model” to invest in community services, underpin supports to frontline staff in hospitals and community settings, and increase the recruitment of health and social care professionals (HSCPs).

“This must start with a concentrated effort to get HSCPs currently redeployed to swabbing and testing duties back to their substantive posts without delay. Fórsa has been pressing this point at every opportunity for some time now,” he said.

It has emerged that more than half the HSCPs allotted to swabbing and testing are now back in substantive roles, and it’s anticipated that many more will be back in place shortly. The HSE confirmed to Fórsa this week that it was to recruit community swabbers for direct employment to aid the coordinated return of HSCPs and others.

Éamonn said he had told the HSE that this will require early and meaningful consultation with Fórsa, as the current agreement only relates to nine learning sites.

It also envisages substantial investment in hospital and community rehabilitation capacity and more support for home care packages and GP services.

He said the union was set to meet the HSE on this and other issues related to the plan, which also promises more acute and non-acute hospital beds – including a 30% rise in intensive care capacity to deal with Covid-19.

It’s never been more important – or more easy – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact the union HERE.

Reshaping the Future: The Case for a Four Day Week

We continue to promote the view that it is essential for the Trade Union movement to engage in a “battle of ideas” not only to challenge the dominant economic orthodoxy that has brought cuts and privatisation to our members and their families but also to explore alternative policy models that would reshape our society for the better. The latest NIPSA Policy and Research publication, arising from a conference motion proposing NIPSA campaign for the introduction of a four-day week in the NICS, continues this mission.

The booklet makes the point that it is essential that all policies – particularly in the midst of and in response to a pandemic – do not lose sight of the economic power that states can deploy when they choose to do so and that the future nature of the world of work is ours to (collectively) shape. The research booklet “Reshaping the Future: The Case for a Four Day Week” is now available to download.

Alison Millar
General Secretary

Debenhams workers occupy Waterford store

MANDATE SAYS GOVERNMENT REFUSAL TO LEGISLATE HAS LED TO OCCUPATIONS

Mandate Trade Union says the government’s refusal to legislate to protect workers’ agreed redundancy packages has created huge frustration with Debenhams workers and led to several workers occupying the Debenhams store in Waterford.

Mandate National Coordinator Jonathan Hogan said the liquidator, KPMG, escalated the dispute last week by sending in individuals to pass official picket lines to pack stock in preparation for removal and this antagonised the workers who have been on strike for 172 days.

Mr Hogan said: “Last week we wrote to KPMG seeking clarification of their position, regarding calls from the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and almost every other elected political representative. Instead of meeting this request positively, the liquidator hired workers to pack up stock and prepare it for removal. If it is the case that they don’t see themselves having any future role in finding a resolution to this protracted dispute then it falls to the government to act, and act now.

“To further compound the frustration for our members,” he added, “ TDs from government parties signed a pledge saying they’d support our calls for a political solution to this strike, yet the Government then went and blocked Joan Collins TDs motion in the Dail which provided all the solutions necessary. Talk about mixed messages.”

Mandate believes the only viable solution to this dispute now is through new legislation which contains provisions to allow workers whose employer hasn’t yet completed the liquidation process to avail of collectively agreed redundancy packages.

Mr Hogan says if this is not done, it could lead to a further escalation in this dispute.

“We completely understand the frustration and anger our members are feeling. They’ve been left high and dry by their employer, then by the liquidator and now by the government. Had the government implemented the Duffy/Cahill review back when it was presented to them, there would never have been a strike and the workers would have their agreed redundancy package. Unfortunately they are still refusing to implement these vital changes which is an affront to our members who are months picketing their stores.”

Mr Hogan concluded: “Mandate is calling on all TDs to sign a pledge which could resolve the dispute if implemented through a Private Members Bill. We need Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party to cease offering words of sympathy and instead draft legislation to resolve this immediately. If they don’t do that, any further escalation lies firmly on their shoulders.”

The Debenhams pledge states:

“I pledge to support legislation that will 

  • reflect the recommendations of the Duffy/Cahill report, which calls for the introduction of a Statutory Scheme by which, in cases of insolvency, enhanced redundancy payments provided for by way of collective agreement could be recoverable as a preferential debt.
  • ensure workers have a right to access the terms of a collectively agreed redundancy deal between their company and representative trade union.
  • establish a Levy Fund with financial contribution from employers similar to other European countries such as Germany, France and Austria.
  • permit Government to make advance payment from the levy fund to Debenhams workers reflecting their collective redundancy agreement negotiated in 2016 of four weeks per year of service inclusive of statutory entitlement.”

 

 

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.”