Staff at Shannon Post Office are concerned about privatisation after An Post management did not inform them that the business is being offered to private interests until after the news was leaked to politicians and the media. It is expected that a private contractor will be appointed to take over the running of the business in the coming weeks.
Effectively the business is being privatised despite being one of the busiest post offices in the country, regularly outselling the GPO on Dublin’s O’Connell Street for ancillary products.
The Shannon office is said to be ranked second in the country for the sale of these products such as banking services, BillPay, Passport Express, TV and Dog Licences etc.
Staff at the post office, some of whom have served their local community for many years, are guaranteed their jobs with An Post but are uncertain whether they will continue to work in Shannon or will be transferred to other offices pending the change of ownership.
It is not yet known who will take over the running of the office or whether An Post will require the new owner to retain the services of existing staff.
The high cost of running the building occupied by the post office in SkyCourt may have been a factor in the decision to privatise the facility.
Along with the ground floor space, the post office also leases the first-floor area above the office for which it has little use. It is believed the current lease arrangement has three years to run and this is having a major impact on overheads.
Local councillor Gerry Flynn said staff at Shannon Post Office won’t know for sure what is going on until they receive clarification from An Post.
Cllr Flynn said he has been informed there will be a number of voluntary redundancies but has been led to believe that there is no immediate risk to Shannon Post Office given the size of the local population and the high usage of the facility.
Clare Fine Gael TD and Minister of State, Pat Breen said he has taken up the matter with An Post. “It came to my attention that there are changes planned for the post office in Shannon and given the importance of this essential service to the town and the Shannon area, I sought further clarification from An Post about any such changes.
“Officials from An Post informed me that it intends to convert the Shannon post office from ‘being a company run office to one that is run by a contractor’ in the coming weeks.
“I have been assured by An Post that the change in business model for the Shannon office will not in any way change the range or extent of the services offered by An Post in Shannon, and it will not impact on the level or variety of services which will be available to Shannon customers.
“According to An Post, of the 1,125 offices nationwide, just 50 are run by An Post, the rest being contractor-run offices. The Shannon office in the Skycourt Shopping Centre is one of seven offices being converted to ‘contract run’ in the coming weeks.”
Minister Breen added, “Shannon Post Office is an essential part of the local community infrastructure and I will be monitoring the situation closely. I will remain in contact with An Post to ensure that its commitment to provide Shannon with the ‘highest level of services for the future’ is fully honoured and implemented in full.”
Minister Breen concluded, “My door is open to the people of Shannon as we work together to ensure a post office befitting their needs continues to serve the people of the area.”
Earlier this year An Post commissioned a review of future strategy which recommended a plan aimed at cutting losses of up to €12m a year from the branch network, this included closure of 80 post offices, mainly in rural areas.
A spokesperson for An Post acknowledged that the company had carried out an in-depth review of the network that includes up to 1,130 post offices. Of these, it was estimated that up to 500 were loss-making.
According to An Post, only 50 post offices are run directly by the company, the remainder are operated by private contractors. It was anticipated that some offices would be converted to contractor-run facilities.
It now appears that Shannon Post Office is one of these. For its part, An Post claims that it remains committed to providing the highest level of services into the future.