An Post lockout fails

The recent dispute in An Post which resulted in the suspension of over 600 workers at the Dublin Mail Centre (DMC), ended with a management back down. An Post management and the Government are aiming to resolve the financial crisis in An Post (50 million euro loss) by cutbacks in jobs, wages, working conditions and services.

By Terry Kelleher

The new An Post C.E.O. Donal Curtin immediately stopped all recruitment, promotions and froze budgets in all areas. He also stated that the national wage increases of 7% would not to be paid. This infuriated postal workers who were being made pay for a financial crisis which has arisen because of gross mismanagement and Government neglect.

An Post management took a hard line in productivity negotiations with the CWU (postpersons' union) over the introduction of new sorting technology. They then proceeded to provoke a dispute by unilaterally implementing change. The plan was to create a dispute in the Dublin District Offices, lock the workers out and force them to accept a deal on management terms.

Management's plan backfired when the wrong staff were suspended and the shopstewards on the ground successfully contained the action in the DMC. The dispute affected 60% of the country's mail and less than 5% of the union membership were suspended.

However none of the issues surrounding the dispute have been resolved. The unions in An Post need to launch a campaign that targets the Government for funding for a much-needed non-profit public service and opposes privatisation. 90% of postal workers have voted for industrial action to force the payment of the 7% pay rise and to oppose the 1,500 redundancies. The industrial action mandate should be used by the CWU to combat the low pay of the majority of postal workers and to fight for a decent basic wage. CWU members need to get organised to ensure that their senior union leaders don't allow management to make the postal workers pay for the company's financial crisis.

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This article is from the April 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.

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