There is no room for nostalgia

David McRedmond, An Post CEO. Photo: Brian McEvoy
David McRedmond, An Post CEO. Photo: Brian McEvoy

An Post is slashing up to 300 jobs because it wants to transform itself from an old-fashioned mail company into one that can compete in the new world of e-commerce and digital services. It is making a business decision to trim down operations so it can move into the future.

The good part – if there is one – about these job cuts is that they are voluntary. No one is being forced out.

And the terms of the voluntary ‘leaver’ programme, as they’re calling it, on offer to 1,200 managers and staff are generous – six weeks pay per year of service.

But it is sad that jobs are going at all. And it is sad that the GPO may no longer be the headquarters of the postal service that has been located on O’Connell Street in Dublin for 200 years, most famously during the 1916 Rising.

An Post chief David McRedmond says the building is dilapidated.

There will still be a post office there, but you can’t help wondering if this downgrade is the start of many others. Will it really need all that space if it is just selling stamps and giving out dole payments and so on?

The truth is that the jobs announcement is not that surprising. An Post has shed a massive 2,000 full-time jobs since 2009. That is the number of full-time positions that have gone – it does not represent the number of people which would be much higher. At the same time, it is offering postmasters an exit package that is triggering the closure of 161 post offices.

But it’s not a day for despair. There are still 9,000 people working for An Post.

Hopefully Mr McRedmond and his team now have a handle on a business that has been turned upside down by the advent of email, mobile phones and internet shopping. It is a unionised semi-state company. Compulsory redundancies are unthinkable, but voluntary ones are costly.

It is now back in profit but can’t afford to be nostalgic. Otherwise, it could be a toss-up between holding onto the past and holding onto anything at all.

Irish Independent

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