Article from the Sept 2004 edition, Socialist Voice

Urgent action to save postal service

AS PART of the new plan to "save" An Post, SDS, the parcel service, is to be closed with the loss of 274 jobs. Staff members learned about these job cuts through the media. The main trade union involved, the CWU, has so far only offered verbal opposition to the closure and complained to the partnership body, the National Implemen-tation Body. However staff at SDS are very angry and feel betrayed by the company.

By Terry Kelleher Trustee CPSU

An Post lost 43 million in 2003 and is currently seeking 1,500 redundancies and an increase in the price of stamps to 55c, which would be a total rise of 34% in just 12 months. Last March industrial action by workers at the DMC over proposed new work practices forced the company to retreat. However they are once again on the offensive and, if the jobs of the 274 SDS workers and a further 1,500 An Post workers are to be saved, the ground must be prepared by the unions to once again take industrial action.

An Post provides a crucial "social service" which should not be expected to run as a profit making company. Instead An Post should receive a subsidy from the state in order to allow it to continue providing a quality service. The current plan by An Post's chief executive, Donal Curtin, to make the company profitable is based soley on making workers redundant, attacking the working conditions of those who remain, and forcing more price increases on the general public.

An Post staff have already supported new productivity deals to try and make the company more viable. The leadership of the CWU, under the disgraced ex-general secretary Con Scanlon, have offered no alternative to their members except to kow tow to management's claims and demands. There is still no stra-tegy coming from the union officials as to how An Post workers can fight to save the jobs at SDS.

The unions are disputing the losses stated by senior management and arguing that SDS has a long-term future. But they should go further and demand that An Post should be funded properly by the government.

This strategy of taking a more political approach to defending jobs took a step forward recently, with all the unions agreeing to a joint campaign for state subsidies. But a strategy that involves mobilising the An Post workforce in a fight to save the jobs at SDS, and the other jobs under threat in the company, is also essential.

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