Article from the Oct 2004 edition, Socialist Voice
An Post: Campaign for state funding
"I absolutely and 100% expect and believe there will be major redundancies and there will be major drops in the earnings where people are earning lots of overtime. I can't see any way we will rescue the company without doing that and I am willing to deal with that. In fact I am anxious to do that to save the majority of jobs."
Stephen Fitzpatrick, general secretary
of the Communication Workers' Union
THE ABOVE quotation reveals that the leadership of the CWU have no plans to defend the workers in An Post from the savage attacks on their jobs, and working conditions.
By Terry Kelleher, Trustee CPSU
The lack of a response from the CWU leadership to the closure of SDS shows that they share management's belief that staff and services must be sacrificed to "save" An Post.
By ignoring the neo-liberal right-wing agenda of the government and failing to politically challenge it the union leaders are leaving the workers and the community that An Post serves to suffer the consequences.
The government's privatisation agenda must be ideologically challenged. The unions need to stand up and politically defend our public services including An Post. Otherwise our postal system will be devastated, broken up and hived off to profiteers. Well paid jobs with good conditions will be replaced by low paid short term contract employment.
This has already happened. Sections of the postal and parcel market have been opened up to private companies. These courier companies are mainly non-unionised, lower paid and have less job security. Already concessions have been made, with new recruits being employed on worse conditions than existing staff in An Post.
An agreement to launch a campaign for proper funding of An Post has been made by the group of An Post unions. The CWU, CPSU, PSEU and the AHCPS have all agreed to campaign for government funding for An Post. But if the unions really agree that An Post's problems are because of government under funding and under investment then they should fight the redundancies and closure of SDS and the proposed redundancies throughout An Post.
Union activists in the CWU, CPSU and PSEU have already begun to discuss how to mobilise An Post workers behind this campaign for a state subvention. We can't leave it to the union leaders to take on the government and An Post management. The union leaders' lack of action up to now shows that they are incapable and unwilling to fight the government's privatisation agenda.
Union activists must demand that the unions establish campaign committees in all An Post workplaces and sections. These local campaign committees should be elected at mass meetings of the members and should have representatives on a central body which directs and controls the campaign in the name of the members.
We can defeat An Post management's plans to shed 1,500 jobs and we can force the government to come up with the cash An Post needs. But this will only be done if we have a real campaign which is under the democratic control of the members and that goes on the political offensive. A campaign should be conducted amongst the general public to make them aware of the government's plans to destroy their publicly owned postal service.
An Post - A vital social service
An Post claims it will make a loss of Û48 million this year. In 2000 the government rejected a plan by An Post to introduce roadside letterboxes that would have saved Û15 million a year. The government's argument was that the daily visit by delivery staff to homes in rural communities played a vital social role. The government are also trying to close rural post offices, yet these too play a vital social role in communities. A state subsidy should be provided in order for An Post to provide this vital social service. Bad management decisions have led to an international mail agreement which sees the company lose Û27 million annually. A state subsidy combined with a renegotiation of this international deal would mean that An Post would be a viable company.