25/01/2005

SDS dispute disrupts An Post parcel deliveries

The Republic of Ireland's postal service An Post has warned of severe disruption to parcel deliveries following an escalation of an industrial dispute at Special Distribution Services (SDS) in Naas, Dublin.

Warning that there no parcel deliveries would be accepted until further notice, An Post said that it was unable to process parcels due to the industrial action. Workers at SDS in Naas have refused to load parcels for sorting by An Post at its Portlaoise facility.

Today, 68 workers were suspended at SDS, which is due to close next Monday as part of a restructuring plan that will see the parcels handling service moved to Portlaoise and re-integrated into An Post.

While 180 workers are to be redeployed within An Post, 270 other workers at SDS are to lose their posts.

In July last year, the board of An Post announced its decision to close loss-making parcels and couriers division, SDS, and to re-integrate the parcels business into An Post mail collection and delivery operations.

Management were seeking 270 voluntary job reductions. Selling off SDS's premises at Naas Road in Dublin, An Post would then transfer of the central parcels hub to Portlaoise. However, discussions with unions have broken down and the main union involved the Communication Workers Union of Ireland is seeking re-instatement of all the workers affected before talks can resume.

Last year, An Post declared that a "radical overhaul" of its parcels business, part of the objectives in the An Post Strategic Recovery Plan would help restore financial stability to the company which had reported operating losses of €43 million for 2003.

Set up in 1989, according to An Post, SDS had struggled due to "high fixed costs and inflexibility".

(SP/MB)

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