RURAL POST OFFICES FACING NEW THREAT AS SORTING SERVICES SET TO BE CLOSED DOWN

first_imgAs another four rural post offices in north Donegal face the loss of their postmen to the Letterkenny sorting office, the move has been described as another disaster for rural areas.Brid Gallagher has said the latest proposals by the Government are a kick in the teeth for rural post offices.Ten postmen are affected as the local mail sorting services are being lost in Creeslough, Kerrykeel, Milford and Carrigart in August.Local offices already hit by the changes include Ramelton, Kilmacrennan and Rathmullan. And a union official has said that this is further evidence of the downgrading of rural post offices and the loss of status poses a big risk for their future viability.It is also believed the removal of sorting will also see a substantial reduction in the income of postmasters.The postmen are to have their mail sorting duties transferred to Letterkenny as An Post moves to ‘consolidate services’.This is part of a cost cutting measure that is coming under increasing criticism from postal workers and the general public. The move which is well underway across the country will see rural postmasters taking substantial cuts in their income.And it is claimed the loss of status will further endanger local post offices across rural Ireland.At the same An Post has stunned the postmasters by asking them to inform their customers they should have social welfare and pensions paid directly into financial institutions.“This change is a direct contradiction of what government Ministers and TD’s here in Donegal have been saying in the Dail in the past year and we fail to understand how they can support the downgrading of our small rural offices,” said Brid Gallagher of the postal union.And in another twist the postmasters have been asked to hand out data to pensioners and social welfare recipients asking them to use a financial institution. The information states, “The Department recommends direct payment to your current, deposit or saving account in a financial institution.“This is the best payment option for you as you can receive your payment at a time and place that suits you.“The postmasters were shocked when asked to circulate this document to their own customers.A number of areas have already seen their sorting services taken out of the local post office to the nearest main office. And most of the county is now set to go down the same route. The Inishowen peninsula will shortly see similar changes, said a union representative.This is the result of ‘unintended consequences’ arising from an agreement between An Post and the Unions, according to post office spokespersons.The deal is part of the company’s consolidation programme and Donegal is among the last areas to have the deal implemented.Brid Gallagher of the Irish Postmasters Union told the Tirconaill Tribune, “Unions agreed the deal in good faith and were not aware of the latest consequences.“It was never intended that post offices would lost status and that the postmasters will see a big decrease in their incomes as a result of losing their sorting duties.“We fail to see how the Government is allowing this downgrading to go ahead when one the other hand they are claiming their objective was to protect rural offices and services.“The opposite is the reality.“This move has been seen as a kick in the teeth for postal workers at a time when many post offices are facing closure.”She added, “It is a bit of a slap in the face when rural post offices are going through so much turmoil.”Postal workers say this move and others go against the spirit of comments made by Junior Minister Joe McHugh in the Dail last year on the retention of post offices and their role in rural and community life.DeputyMcHugh told a Dail debate on postal services last year, “The Government has made a decision to work proactively across Departments to examine how all Departments can work together, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Social Protection, to lend their weight to the sustainability and viability of post offices.“I sit on the working group and I take this very seriously. I am concerned every Department must be on the same wavelength as the interdepartmental decision to ensure the long-term sustainability and viability of post offices.“The Government is taking this seriously and it is important we continue in this vein.”Now representatives of the postal union say they’ve not had any response from Minister McHugh in relation to the downgrading in his own home territory.Meanwhile questions are also being raised about the Department of Social Protection’s policy regarding post offices.It wants the majority of its transactions, bar 3%, done by electronic payment by the end of this year.The real issue, says the postmasters is that the Department wants to have most of its business done by electronic means by 2015.Correspondence has been issued from the Department of Social Protection to pensioners advising them or encouraging those who have been receiving payments for a long number of years to have their money paid by direct debit into the bank rather than through the post office.Cllr. Ian McGarvey who has been keeping a watching brief on the transfer of postal services says the move is a disaster and a further threat to the future of rural services.He said, “The transfer of sorting to Letterkenny is a clear indication of the Government’s policy of urbanisation and the total silence of all our Oireachtas Members is a scandal.With every passing year more services are being removed from rural areas into the larger towns like Letterkenny and nobody is asking why this is being allowed to happen.RURAL POST OFFICES FACING NEW THREAT AS SORTING SERVICES SET TO BE CLOSED DOWN was last modified: June 4th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:attackBusinessFeaturesGovernmentnewspost officesrurallast_img

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