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'It's a devastating blow': Cork mail centre to shut down with 216 job losses

“We’re transitioning from a world of letters to a world of parcels,” CEO David McRedmond said.

Image: ©Fran Veale via An Post

Updated Jun 27th 2019, 8:44 AM

AN POST HAS announced that its mail centre in Cork will be shut down, with an expected 216 job losses.

In a statement released last night, An Post announced it is “consolidating and reducing its letter processing capacity in line with global industry trends”.

The changes will see the closure of the Cork Mails Centre in Little Island, Cork with the loss of 216 jobs. 

Currently the Cork plant is operating at below 25% capacity as mail volumes decline at about 7% annually due to customers moving from the letters to parcels and emails, or online forms and purchases. 

An Post CEO David McRedmond told Morning Ireland that this was the result after a 6 month review, and that there are no plans for the other three sorting offices, but added: “no one can say where we will be in 10 or 20 years’ time”.

He said that the closure was a “devastating blow”, and that the staff had “performed extremely well” and to the “highest quality”, but that the closure had to take place due to a switch in people’s habits: 

We’re transitioning from a world of letters to a world of parcels.
Everybody in An Post knew we were going to close a mail centre, the question was which one.

He added: “I believe there will be enough jobs for those who want them… certainly for people who want it, we will find those opportunities.”

He said they would also work to retrain the staff when needed, saying they were going “to try to work within the parameters of what is a very difficult decision.”

When asked whether the mail staff could be transferred to sort parcels, McRedmond said: “Absolutely, but the parcel network does work a bit differently.”

“It’s a very different pattern for parcels, and doesn’t work in the same way as mail. It can certainly be transferred, and as we transfer the service to parcels, certainly there will be more jobs, but we’ve got to look at the viability of jobs,” adding that the company had gone back into growth, and back into a sustainable future.

When asked what would happen to the site, McRedmond said that they were in talks with the IDA and the Land Development Agency, saying there was a demand for those sites. 

The closure will be phased in over a nine-month period between September 2019 and March 2020 and staff will be offered a number of different exit packages. 

Statements

An Post said it has engaged with the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) to ensure the best possible outcome for all the staff. The closure of a mail centre was considered by the Labour Court in its recommendation of September 2017.  

A spokeswoman from An Post said: “The €11m annual savings from the plant closure will enable An Post to invest more rapidly in its parcels infrastructure nationally, locally, and in the automation of parcel sorting. Parcel volumes have grown by 60% since An Post actively re-entered the parcels market in 2017.”

Solidarity TD Mick Barry from Cork North Central said it makes no sense to close the Cork Mail Centre at a time when the demand for parcel post is going through the roof.

“An Post made a very poor decision by getting out of the parcel delivery business back in the noughties when it shut down SDS. That kind of shortsighted approach should not be replicated here.”

I’m told that there was a lot of upset and anger at the meeting last night, this is coming as a real blow to many, many workers who have given long years of service.

The CWU said it was extremely disappointed with the decision to close the mail centre. The union said that the decision will be devastating news to those affected and that it will have detailed negotiations with An Post to ensure that those workers losing their jobs are supported in rebuilding their lives and careers.

Sean McDonagh, CWU National Executive Officer and Deputy General Secretary said: “Our concern now as a result of this decision must be with the staff of the Cork Mail Centre and their families, and the CWU will seek to ensure that redundancies are voluntary to the greatest extent possible.

“In addition, staff must be offered redeployment options within An Post or full severance terms. In advance of the final closure of the centre, the CWU will be working on site and in negotiations with the company to ensure that all the issues are dealt with fairly and comprehensively by An Post.”

- with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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