WINTER 2011 VOL: 13
Seasons Greetings to all our Members
Contents Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Youth Committee Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Organising Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . eircom Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Regulation Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Triumph of the spivs as democracy is sidelined . . What would Google do? Searching for the Postal Service’s future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CWU Band is seeking new members! . . . . . . . . . . Vodafone Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ESCCU Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Growth is the key. Pre-Budget Submission, 2012 of Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bank customer IDs go for a song . . . . . . . . . . . . . Postal Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Medisan - benefits you can afford . . . . . . . . . . . . Equality Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Convoy to Bulgaria, September 2011 . . . . . . . . . . CWU Insurance with FM Downes & Co. . . . . . . . . Education Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . UNI Global Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Report Shows Increase in Serious Illnesses . . . . . Halligan Insurances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Intellectual Disability Housing Fund . . . . . . . . . . . Challenging times for staff at Billpost . . . . . . . . . . UPS European Works Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CWU People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . An Post Employees’ Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . Book Reviews by Adrienne Power . . . . . . . . . . . . CWU Membership Application Forms . . . . . . . . . .
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We come to the end of what is now the third year of austerity measures and budgets introduced due to the worldwide economic collapse and in particular this Country due to the handling of our finances by the previous Fianna Fail led Government. It is also the third year without any one of the people responsible appearing in Court or going to jail. Indeed the mantra now is let bygones be bygones, indeed it could be argued that during the recent election there was somewhat of a resurgence of Fianna Fail in the Dublin West Bye Election and by Sean Gallagher, the Fianna Failer in sheep’s clothing in the Presidential Election. It now seems to be the accepted logic that we are bound by the solemn agreement signed by the previous Government with the so called Troika and that successive Governments will be obliged under the Agreement to continue to deliver more and more austerity measures. What in fact has happened is that the previous Government has quietly simply signed away our economic sovereignty and ensured by signing the agreement that generations of Irish people will continue to pay for their mismanagement. “Austerity Measures” is quite a cold term and does not really portray the misery that has been heaped on ordinary working people and their families through loss of employment, pay cuts and ongoing emigration. Many families this Christmas will have empty spaces around the table which will mark the spots of young Irish emigrants and young Irish families who have been forced to leave this Country in their thousands. Many other families will struggle to meet the expectations of their younger children in relation to the Christmas festivities and most will view the New Year with trepidation. Our members in eircom in particular face a major time of uncertainty as they see their Company treated like a rich man’s toy as various groups of investors or in many cases, predators, eye the beleaguered Company with a view to squeezing further profits from what was essentially a debt free Company prior to privitisation. It is ironic that as a result of sacrifices made by the workforce particularly in relation to the pension deficit and the rescue plan, that the result could be that the Company now looks more attractive to
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Editor: Steve Fitzpatrick Sub-Editor: Imelda Wall Issued by: Communications Workers’ Union, 575 North Circular Road, Dublin 1. Telephone: 8663000 and Fax: 8663099 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Incorporating the PTWU Journal, THE RELAY and THE COMMUNICATIONS WORKER The opinions expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the CWU. Photographs: John Chaney Printed by Mahons Printing Works, Dublin.
speculators. You maybe assured that it has been made absolutely clear to those speculators that the sacrifices were made in order to try and build a telecoms company that had a long term future which would provide for the maximum number of jobs. Any approach that threatens that possibility will be vehemently opposed by this Union and it would be a major mistake for any of those speculators to assume that agreement reached with the present shareholders will automatically extend to them. One bright note in the middle of this debacle was the recent decision to employ 70 apprentices. That decision does signal some hope for the future and it is heartening to see young people embarking on a career which hopefully will serve them well into the future. It also indicates that the Company is serious about the future and about preserving the skills that so many of our members have built up over many years. We have also had a traumatic year in Vodafone with various disputes concerning pay, pensions, job losses and outsourcing. There is little doubt that the manner in which Vodafone Ireland and its multi national management team have handled these issues has seriously damaged the Steve Fitzpatrick, Vodafone brand in Ireland. In my view there was absolutely no reason for General Secretary, CWU Vodafone to deal with these issues in that manner and its disregard for its staff and their representatives is probably the true portrait of this multi national giant. It also emphasises the need for us as a Union to maintain and build on our international affiliations through UNI, our International Global Union. While given all the circumstances we should be happy with the outcomes of those various disputes, there is no doubt that we will face many challenges with this Company in the years ahead. Our members in An Post have not been spared from the impact of the financial collapse. On a daily basis we continue to deal with that impact as the Company try to recoup losses that have occurred through the ongoing loss of postal business. Allied to that threat we have also seen the An Post Pension Fund suffer along with most other Pension Funds due to the collapse of the financial markets. It is imperative we be given the opportunity to fix this pension fund and indeed other pension funds but that can only be done so with Government assistance and the interminable dithering by successive Government on the key pension issue has gone past a joke. It is vital for the Union that An Post holds on to its key customers and develops new streams of business. The gradual demise of Letterpost has been exacerbated by the financial collapse and at this stage it has become difficult to know whether to attribute the downturn in the mail business totally to the economic collapse or to electronic substitution but the likely answer is that it is a combination of both. Therefore we need An Post to concentrate more of its energy on the parcel, packet and express markets as those markets cannot be affected by the impact of electronic transfer of information. The Union this year has put a major focus on organising as it deals with the impact of falling membership as a result of the issues outlined above. The Unionâ€™s National Executive Council has made a decision to invest in organising and recruitment over the next two years with a view to establishing whether or not we can maintain our position as the pre-eminent Communications Union in the Country. There is little doubt that there are multiple opportunities in the Call Centre and Courier industries for organising but the failure to date of the Government to deliver on its promises in relation to Collective Bargaining makes it an extremely difficult task. I find it very difficult to take the view expressed by Employersâ€™ Organisations and Chambers of Commerce that allowing Irish workers the same rights in relation to collective bargaining that their fellow workers have in Western Europe and the United States of America is some how a threat to our economic recovery. What this seems to indicate is that these Groups along with some agencies of the State are selling our Country as a Country to invest on the basis of the withholding of basic human rights to its workforce. It certainly does not make me proud to be Irish. Notwithstanding all of the above, at the dawning of each New Year, one has to look for positives and we all like to think that we can implement New Year resolutions. My wishes for the New Year are that the Government comes to its senses and realises the need to invest in the Irish economy in order to create jobs and hope in our society, that the Government delivers on its promise to allow Irish Workers the same rights to collective bargaining as their comrades have throughout the Western World, that the future of our eircom members is finally secured, that our members in Vodafone be given a peaceful year after what they have been through over the past 12 months, that economic recovery will assist the recovery of business in An Post in order that we can protect the maximum number of jobs, that after many years that we finalise a collective bargaining agreement on behalf of our members in UPS and indeed on behalf of many other members in Call Centres in BT and in O2 who equally await similar breakthroughs. Most importantly I wish you and yours a very Healthy and Happy New Year. I also wish to thank you sincerely for your considered support to the Communications Workersâ€™ Union and I pledge our continuing efforts on your behalf for the New Year. 3
Youth Committee Update
CWU Youth Committee is now in full swing! Union and their role within the CWU as members and activists. We discussed the main aim of the Youth Committee, which is to unite young members, to identify common issues and concerns, to develop focused plans of action, and to address these issues within the democratic framework of the CWU. We also explained that the Union would provide all necessary training to encourage young members to actively participate locally and nationally within the CWU and its affiliates. Since then the Youth Committee, with the full backing of Head Office and all the Branches, has gone from strength to strength, with several meetings having taken place and more recently our very successful two-day training course on public speaking and grievance & disciplinary procedures. I expect great things from the renewed Youth Committee and hopefully we can succeed in giving a voice to our young members and encourage them to become more involved in their Union. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have gotten involved in the Youth Committee and also the CWU Officers and its Education Committee for their support over the years. I would also like to thank the Head Office staff, Fionnuala and Ciara, who have been a tremendous help with the everyday running and organising of the Youth Committee. From myself and all the Youth Committee I would like to thank you for taking the time to read these articles and wish and your family a happy Christmas and a peaceful new year.
The CWU Youth Committee, formally known as the CWU Youth Action Group, has been rejuvenated once again. Yes, you heard it right, it’s now in full swing! So any young members wishing to get involved please get contact Head Office. Unfortunately, in 2010 many of the original members emigrated due to pressures from the recession; the group of ten went to one of only two, with the Chair (Caroline Corcoran) and Vice Chair (Eric Partridge) left to fly the flag. Undeterred, we got together with Fionnuala Ní Bhrógáin and Ciara Melinn of Head Office to come up with a way to kick-start the Youth Committee and it was decided that we would hold a Youth Open Day in May of this year. To get the message out to all our different Branches we attended Spring Seminar in Castlebar to highlight the need for a Youth Committee and to talk with all the representatives from our different Branches within the CWU. We expressed our views and opinions as to why there is a major need to have a Youth Committee which gives a voice to our young members and raise issues of importance for them. After talking with all the different representatives they committed to nominate young members in their Branches who might be interested in getting involved with the Committee and attend the Youth Open Day. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all representatives who gave up their time to come and talk to myself and Caroline at the Youth Committee stand. On the 22nd of May this year we held our Youth Open Day which was a very successful event. We had a great mix of young members from around the country who turned up with the full support from their Branches and great enthusiasm themselves. On the day we explained the structure of the Union, the role of the
Slán go foil Eric Partridge Vice-Chair, Youth Committee
Youth Committee Training Event: An Irish Perspective Did you know that the second biggest phobia in the world is gloss phobia, otherwise known as the fear of public speaking? And that’s only second to the fear of dying! So it was a pretty daunting task that faced the twenty Youth Committee members on the 4th October when we arrived at our Presentation Skills Training. We started with our trainer, Marie Lord, asking about our experience with presentation and public speaking. Except for a small few of the members present, we were all novices; so as you can imagine, nerves were pretty high. Luckily we were shown a variety of exercises to deal with nervousness, like developing a pre-presentation ritual, breathing control and a few other relaxation techniques. Then, after a bit of a group discussion, the time came for us to put our training to the test. We divided into groups of four and each group gave a five minute presentation on various topics. The training obviously worked, as all the members present overcame their nerves to give confident, assured presentations. The second day’s training was with CWU officials Pat Kenny and Fionnuala Ní Bhrógáin, discussing the many ways union
representatives deal with grievance and disciplinary processes. There was huge enthusiasm among the members present and a lot of questions were asked during the training. It gave great insight to us all, as we learned the proper procedures and approaches to be taken when dealing with the variety of problems which may arise in the workplace. We discussed the grievance and disciplinary measures given by companies with employment contracts and we also role played a meeting between an employee, their union official and a HR manager. All in all it was an invaluable two days training and the Youth Committee would like to thank all involved for organising it. As it stands, there is a great number of young members in the CWU and with training like this, and future training events planned, we can only go from strength to strength. We are the future of the Union, and the future is bright! Barry Gorman A member of the Youth Committee and the Portlaoise Postal Branch 4
Youth Committee Update
CWU Youth Committee hold training event in IBOA House workers about the union. The next day the training focused on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures, which was extremely informative and useful for the day-to-day happenings at work for young members. The committee members asked insightful and relevant questions. The training was extremely informative and the lads all seemed more equipped to handle G&Ds in their respective workplaces. There was lively discussion after the training, with members giving useful feedback and making plans for future meetings and training. The next steps of the Youth Action Plan were discussed and I was very excited to hear about the goals of the Youth Committee to continue to develop and grow. In America, the labour movement is often criticized for not engaging enough with young workers, but through youth-driven
On the 4th and 5th October, the Youth Committee held a training event in IBOA House on Stephen’s Street Upper. I am a student from the US, studying at Cornell University in upstate New York, currently doing an internship in the Organising Department of the CWU until mid-December. At home when I am on campus, I am very active in student-labour solidarity campaigns and engaging young people with the labour movement. From my very first days in September, I was extremely excited to hear about the work of the Youth Committee! Having just arrived in Dublin a few weeks prior, this was my first meeting of the Youth Committee. I was very impressed by the turnout for the event. Members from all around the country and from call center, telecom, and postal branches all came out for the two days of training on Presentation Skills and Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures. It was lovely to meet everyone and the enthusiasm of the Committee created a welcoming and exciting atmosphere for me as a newcomer. The first day of training in Presentation Skills taught us a great deal about giving effective presentations and challenged us to do things we weren’t used to. By the end of the day, we had all come out of our shells a bit and were able to speak very well in front of the group, despite most of us not having much experience! After talking as a committee, the group believes that further training in presentations will be useful to develop more confidence in their abilities in the workplace or at AGMs when talking with co-
initiatives, the concerns of unions’ younger members are being moved to the forefront. The creation of young worker councils, training and networking events for youths, and seats on decisionmaking bodies of unions in the US have led to a stronger voice for young union members. As the CWU Youth Committee, you are not only the future of the union, but a fundamental part of the here and now. Your participation, commitment, and activism within your workplaces, branches, and the broader trade union movement are critical to building real worker power in Ireland! After meeting you all, I am invigorated to head back home to continue working with young people in the US to campaign for worker rights, and to strengthen our ties with workers around the world. I hope to see familiar faces and to meet even more of you at the next meeting of the Youth Committee!
Casey Sweeney Intern, CWU Head Office
Global Telesales Following on from the success of the Labour Court win the organising team have begun a new push for membership within Global Telesales in East Point Business Park. The organisers made their way down to Clontarf Dart station and spoke with members and non members on the shuttle bus to find out about the working conditions within the call centre and to raise awareness of the recent win. The work force is largely comprised of Europeans from Spain, Portugal, Germany and France along with a small Irish contingent. The staff were very happy to see the Communications Workers Union taking such an active role in coming down to speak to them and they felt it dispel the misconception that the Unionâ€™s sole purpose was to help them when they had an issue. The organising team have made plans to repeat this exercise over the coming weeks and to speak to even more members and non members in the hope of organising a branch within the work place.
Vodafone Retail Forum First Source A new company that has signed up with the Communications Workers Union is First Source based on the Eircom site in Churchfield, Co Cork. This new work force recently had their first induction group in which the organisers met with them to advise them of the benefits of joining the Union and working collectively to resolve any problems with conditions. With over 100 new staff planned for the call centre the organising team intends to meet with the new induction groups that will be starting there over the coming months. The organising team envisage increasing visibility of the Union on site in order to recruit new members with the objective of setting up a branch in the near future.
CWU is delighted to announce the formation of the Vodafone Retail Forum. The group is made up of Lindsay Beggs (Blackrock), Dobrawa Buajkowska (Blanchardstown), Michael Fleming (Grafton St), Stephen Kiernan (Blanchardstown) and Emily Olohan (Swords). Most of the group recently took part in workplace leader training. The group recently held its first meeting and were joined by Vodafone Branch Secretary Michael Farrell and Gerard O'Rourke, Organiser. The purpose of the forum is to enable retail members with a platform to discuss workplace issues. It is the aim of the Union to develop a number of Vodafone Retail forums throughout the country. Our next task is to organise training for our colleagues in Cork.
Obelisk Networks A number of Obelisk workers contacted Union organisers because they were concerned about unilateral workplace changes that management introduced. Organisers subsequently commenced a campaign at Obelisk Networks. Following meetings with union organisers a number of workers joined the union. Subsequently one of our members raised a grievance in relation to unilateral changes to terms and conditions of his employment contract. The company refuses to allow workers to avail of trade union representation at individual grievance and disciplinary meetings. The union referred the matter to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). Unfortunately the issue could not be resolved. The officer of the LRC has sent a report to the Labour Court and the court has arranged for the case to be heard on 6th December 2011
‘25 new members join CWU at Meteor Park West’ The union continues to organise workers in Park West and organisers and local union activists have been busy recruiting members into the union. In the last number of weeks 25 new members have joined. Indeed since the establishment of the local union branch, membership has continually increased. Branch Secretary Michael Crowe said “The new branch is working great; each member has their own responsibility for specific tasks--for example, Larry looks after communications and makes sure that any union information is available on notice boards. The visibility of the union has really increased since the committee came together and the feedback from members is generally very positive.” Michael and the branch committee have successfully represented a number of issues on behalf of members to management.
The Union welcomes the new members of the Meteor Park West and congratulates the Committee for their efforts. Well done lads and keep up the good work!
Vodafone Rigney Dolphin, Leopardstown
visited the workplace and held the one-to-one meetings with both members and non-members from various teams in the call centre. The lads signed up a number of new members and received very positive feedback from their coworkers. Many employees expressed their appreciation for the victories the branch has achieved with the company in the past months, as well the visibility of union reps of the floor. These meetings emphasised that the union can only be as strong as its membership. Also, as another part of Call Centre Action Month, the Vodafone Rigney Dolphin group sent two delegates to attend the upcoming Call Centre Forum, to share their experiences with other CWU members from a number of different companies. Welcome to the new members of the Vodafone Branch, and congratulations to the Committee members for all their efforts. All CWU members working in the Vodafone Call Centre in Leopardstown are encouraged to strengthen the voice of the union and get more involved! Contact Mick Farrell (Branch Secretary), John Kenny, or Declan Flanagan.
The Vodafone Branch Committee and local activists have taken significant action over the past month to increase visibility and participation in the Vodafone-Rigney Dolphin call centre operation in Dublin. After holding a number of meetings with CWU organisers, the branch committee, and active members from the call centre, the Vodafone Rigney Dolphin group set out to hold one-to-one meetings in the workplace to identify members’ issues and to invite non-members to join their colleagues in the union. A group of activists recently received workplace leader training at union headquarters, which equipped them with knowledge and skills to go into these small group meetings to talk about the importance of the union with their coworkers. As part of UNI’s Call Centre Action Month, workplace representatives John Kenny and Declan Flanagan, Branch Secretary Michael Farrell, and Gerard O’Rourke and Casey Sweeney from the Organising Department
and significant changes to the staffs’ terms and conditions. Staff have been presented with new contracts and the company has failed to engage in a real manner to address the staffs’ concerns. The union subsequently contacted the company and a meeting was held between representatives of the union and the company at which the members’ issues were raised. The company committed to consider the matter. This process is ongoing and we will update you in future issues of Connect. The CWU will continue to work with our new members in Turkish Airlines and support them in their efforts to strengthen their voice in the workplace.
CWU works with Turkish Airlines members to help strengthen their voice in the workplace The Communications Workers' Union has recruited several new members in Turkish Airlines who work in customer service in offices in Dublin and the Airport. Following contact from one employee, CWU organisers spoke with workers who identified several concerns including an attempt to impose far-reaching
eircom Update Service Leave
2nd September 2011
The purpose of this circular is to bring members up-to-date with the present position in relation to the ongoing discussions concerning the eircom Rescue Plan.
Agreement has been reached in relation to the application of service leave. For those members who lost 2 days service leave, one day will be added to their annual leave for this leave year, with the 2nd day being added to their annual leave allocation next year. Members who have lost 1 day of service leave will have that day applied to their annual leave this year.
We are reaching a critical stage in the debt restructuring negotiations, which is ongoing between the company, the shareholder and the debt holders. It has been widely reported in the media that the senior debt holders have put together a committee, which has met with the company and the shareholders in order to review the companyâ€™s Strategic Plan. Independent Consultants, Ernst & Young, have endorsed that plan. It was pointed out prior to the ballot on the Rescue Plan that the company was likely to breach its financial covenants, but in order to allow the debt restructuring discussions to continue, a three-month waiver on that covenant has been agreed between the lenders and the company. There will now be critical discussions, which hopefully will allow the company to renegotiate its present debt situation, which will therefore create the conditions for the much-needed investment by the shareholders. There is no prospect of that investment occurring without agreement on how the debt will be managed into the future.
Agreement has been reached with the company for the conversion of privilege days to annual leave days.
Re: eircom Rescue Plan Dear Colleagues,
Apprentice Programme Discussions are ongoing in relation to the Apprentice Programme with the expectation that those apprentices will start work in October/November. We still have not yet finalised all of the attendant pay and conditions issues.
ePayslips A trial on the introduction of ePayslips has been agreed with the company. The approach, as agreed, is also attached to this GS Circular.
Wave 1 The date agreed for the implementation of the Wave 1 process is the 16th September.
I have attached, for your information, a copy of the Finding issued by the LRC in relation to the Installation and Monitoring of GPS. It is estimated that this installation and commissioning in the company fleet will take approximately three months. It has been accepted by the Labour Relations Commission that GPS can be used as a work management tool only, for a period of three months following installation and commissioning. At the end of the initial three-month period, we will again meet under the auspices of the Commission to consider the data collected and the suite of reports available which may support works management and improved customer service. If necessary at the stage, the Union has the option of referring the matter to the Court, but it is the view of the National Executive Council that we would be better off with an agreed, negotiated and mediated settlement rather than an imposed settlement.
The company has informed us that it is its intention to reintroduce a bonus scheme for all Personal Contract Staff and for all other staff who were previously entitled to bonus payments. They have further informed us that the bonus will largely be linked to the financial performance of the company, as it would make little sense to pay bonuses in circumstances where the company was not meeting its agreed targets. Discussions are also due to commence for the introduction of a bonus scheme for graded staff. We have been given an assurance from the company that it is their intention to provide any payments due from these schemes on a simultaneous basis.
Conclusion We are entering an extremely critical period in the history of eircom and it is fair to say the coming months will decide on the future ownership of the company and on the implications the outcome will bring. Based on the implementation of the Rescue Plan and the progress being made to date, it is the Unionâ€™s expectation that it should be possible to have the pay-cut returned before the end of the 18-month period. The NEC is still of the view that the ongoing
Wave 2 Negotiations Wave 2 negotiations commenced last week with a presentation by the company on its plan. That presentation has been shared with the Branches with a view to preparing our negotiating team for the upcoming discussions. We view the companyâ€™s demands under this heading as being their opening gambit and it is our belief that there is a lot more work to do before we can reach final agreement. 8
eircom Update implementation of the Rescue Plan is closely tied up with the financial re-engineering and the investment proposals for the company. Therefore, in the event the investment does not, or cannot, materialise our view remains that such a position would negate the terms of the agreement.
4. GPS Following the agreement reached at the Conciliation Conference at the LRC on August 30th 2011, Eircom has commenced the deployment of the technology throughout the fleet. More than 20 members from NDID have been trained on the installation of the units and most of these are currently engaged on the project. It is estimated that completion of the installation work will take three months. Upon completion of the installation programme, the system will be used for work management and customer service. After three months of operation the Company and Union will re-engage to consider the data and reports available to support Operational Management, if necessary with further engagement at the Labour Relations Commission.
Yours fraternally, Steve Fitzpatrick General Secretary
19th October 2011
Re: eircom Rescue Plan Update
5. Wave 1
The implementation of the Wave 1 Restructuring in Group Technology commenced on September 16th. Members in scope are taking up new roles, engaged in projects or are currently in handover roles as the organisation transitions to the new structure. The Company is currently embarking on a series of group and one-to-one meetings with those in the project group and this process is expected to be completed in November. Currently more than 60 of this group are involved in projects (Copex and Opex), several are in the process for new roles and the remainder are in handover as provided for in the original agreement.
Please find outlined below the up-to-date position in relation to the Eircom Rescue Plan.
1. Debt Restructuring Negotiations It now seems likely that the outcome of those negotiations will become clear within the next fortnight. My understanding of the situation is that the shareholders have put an investment proposal on the table linked into the Eircom Strategic Plan. Both those proposals are subject to intense discussions with the First Lenders Lien Committee, which represents approximately 70% of the Eircom debt. The result of those discussions will set the scene for the future direction and ownership of Eircom; whether that is with the present owners or if the debt holders receive a more attractive alternative offer.
6. Apprentices As previously outlined, the Union has succeeded in increasing the number of apprentices to 70 (from the original agreed figure of 50). Those apprentices will be inducted in three stages and will be allocated to Branches when they have completed their training and have been designated to their work areas. In the initial stages the apprentices will be represented by the Dublin No.1 Branch.
2. Investment As part of the above process our understanding is that the shareholders have indicated their willingness to invest in the region of â‚Ź300 million, which will be used in the main for the further roll-out of a fibre-optic cable.
3. Wave 2
You will be aware the Rescue Plan provided for payment of a bonus to all staff. Discussions are at an extremely early stage on this issue with the Company. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those Branches who have sent me submissions and opinions in relation to the bonus negotiations.
The National Executive Sub-Committee has been in discussions for some time with Company Management with a view to seeking movement on the proposed staff surplus. The Committee is also involved in discussions concerning the proposed number of centres and it will come as no surprise that we do not see the Companyâ€™s proposal to form one centre acceptable. The recurring issue of the geographical spread of surplus staff against the actual work offering is proving to be a difficult problem. Proposals on contractor displacement by our members are also a feature of the discussions but, once again, that involvement is primarily on the east coast. Separate discussions have also just commenced within the Management Grades represented by the CWU.
8. New Vendors Following the tendering process, a decision has been taken by the Company to appoint two new vendors to manage the call centres on behalf of the Company. Those vendors are HCL and Firstsource and we have commenced discussions with those companies with a view to transferring our members concerned under the TUPE legislation. As part of 9
eircom Update is causing continued anxiety among our members as they view their future with increasing worry. The delay in bringing these matters to a conclusion seems to have encouraged other speculators to eye-up the company. Indeed, it is somewhat ironic that the ongoing sacrifice made by our members in Eircom seems to have put the Company into a situation where it now has become more attractive than it would have been heretofore. One way or another we have been assured that matters should be brought to a conclusion early in the New Year. We are at a critical point in the deliberation between the banks, shareholders and other interested third parties in relation to the restructuring of Eircomâ€™s debt, and indeed, the whole future of Eircom. The Union continues to monitor events very closely and I personally keep in close touch with our representatives on the ESOP Board. We need a solution here from all parties to create a stable future for the Company that protects jobs and conditions for workers and offers the comfort of a secure future for our pensioners. Fancy financial engineering that does not address the fundamental problems is not acceptable. This is what landed the Company in its current predicament and staff and pensioners have made too many sacrifices for that to occur again. I hope the ESOP, assuming they are in the mix, can ensure that the solutions that are implemented are fit for purpose. I believe the ESOP presence at the table has been important up to now and it must be recognised. In saying that, I expect the banks and other parties to recognise in this process the enormous savings already accrued to Eircom on the back of workers and pensioners. There are a number of criteria that will have to be applied to judging any proposals that might emerge, but the main ones will be:
this operation, there will also be a consolidation of call centres in Dublin, and we are actively engaged with the new vendors and Eircom on these critical issues.
9. Roll-Out of Fibre The initial phase of the fibre roll-out trial has to date been a success, both from a technological point and also from the point of view of our members involved in the project. The Company has been complementary concerning the output from our members involved in that project and we look forward to a further roll-out, hopefully in the near future. The project, as well as being key to the future of the Company, has the capacity to provide gainful employment for hundreds of our members over the next 4/5 years.
10. Overtime (Contractor Involvement) There has been a real concern expressed from the Branches to Union Headquarters concerning the ongoing provision of overtime and the deployment of contractors, particularly in some key areas on the east coast. Following the recent National Executive Council meeting, it was agreed that the Officers would meet with the Company to establish exactly the scope of overtime and contract of involvement, and indeed the reasons for same. Once again, this issue brings us up against the staff mobility issue, which is exacerbated by the nine-day fortnight. Therefore, it is clear to the National Executive Council that at some stage we will have to address the issue of mobility. I would be interested in any submissions that Branches might have in relation to this thorny subject.
11. Savings Calculations Negotiations have commenced with the Company on how the savings from the various programmes and exit packages are calculated. I believe it is absolutely necessary that we keep track of the contribution that has been made by our members to the Company.
(a) Balance sheet remediation must deal once and for all with the problem of the massive debt as we are unlikely to have a second bite of the cherry. (b) There must be a clear commitment to the investment that is obviously required to create a secure long term future for Eircom. (c) There must be recognition in this process for the hard cash contributions made by staff over the last 2 years and the enormous sacrifices made by pensioners to put the pension fund on a sound footing.
I expect to be in further contact with you in the very near future concerning the issues above, but in particular, concerning the ongoing debt restructuring negotiations. Yours fraternally, Steve Fitzpatrick General Secretary
This is an opportunity for all parties to show that they are not taking the staff and the Unions for granted. We have played our part and that must not and cannot be forgotten. We will continue to keep you posted on developments as the story evolves in the weeks ahead.
4 November 2011
Re: eircom Rescue Plan
Steve Fitzpatrick General Secretary
The continuing speculation concerning the future of Eircom 10
Eircom Apprentice Programme...... Growing the membership technicians in the external field operations and will rotate in the core network and centres. They will also, as far as we are told, move around to different locations, mainly on the east coast. The first batch of the 24 will be spread around Dublin, Drogheda, Naas and Waterford (just to name a few locations). The Union welcomes all the apprentices into the Union and hope they have a long and happy working life in Eircom and the CWU.
This is the first batch of apprentices (24 in all) that started a 2 year apprenticeship on Monday 17th October. The rest of the 70 apprentices are due to start on Tuesday 1st November, and Monday 14th November. This is the first time that a large number of trainees/apprentices have been taken on in Eircom since about 1984. I am sure everyone welcomes the younger additions to the workforce in the fixed access operations. These apprentices will be placed with experienced
Ian McArdle, National Officer, addresses the new apprentices.
Ivor Reynolds, NEC, addresses the new apprentices with John Egan, Branch Secretary, No. 1 Branch, and Ian McArdle, National Officer.
eircom Shirks its Responsibility came to our attention we had a meeting with Senior Management in First Source and while they expressed regret at not informing the Union of their intention to commence recruitment they had made it clear that the decision to pay the minimum rate of pay is determined by the terms of the contract between them and eircom and they also made it clear that eircom were well aware that the terms of the contract they were insisting upon could only be delivered on the basis of paying minimum rates of pay. This is a very serious development as the eircom Management concerned would have known that payments of the minimum rates of pay would be a non runner with the Union and yet they went ahead and negotiated a contract. Eircom have now adopted the position that the issue of pay is a matter between the Union and First Source. As far as the Union is concerned Eircom will not be allowed to walk away form its responsibilities. This instance serves as another reminder of the lack of any coherent HR policy in eircom. It seems that Managers are intent on building their own independent republics with their own HR policies and this strategy appears to have the blessing of senior management.
Some months back eircom informed the Union of their intention to put out to tender work involved in Call Centres which is currently carried out by Stream, Capita, and Rigney Dolphin. The Union was surprised at this development as the three companies had built a reputation for providing quality of service to customers and have a good working relationship with the Union. We were even more surprised when the outcome of the tendering process was announced and as none of the aforementioned companies were successful and the contracts would transfer to HCL and First Source. We have commenced negotiations with HCL and First Source on framework agreements to protect members terms and conditions of employment. A major feature of the change is the transfer of work from a Call Centre in Waterford operated by Rigney Dolphin to Churchfield in Cork. The Union wrote to First Source in September and amongst the issues we listed for discussion was pay and conditions for new employees in Cork. We recently discovered by accident that First Source had commenced recruiting staff in Cork and they intend to employ them on the minimum rate of pay. Immediately this
European Commission to co-finance fibre in Ireland fibre network across Europe. Big telcos that have already outlined their investment plans are focussed almost exclusively in densely populated areas for obvious business reasons and taken cumulatively, the levels of investment being made in fibre fall well short of the €270b required. The fund will be operated on the basis of ‘project bonds’. These bonds will allow private sector involvement by putting a certain amount of EU money on the table to assist the company to attract third party funding. It is not the case that all projects will be supported in this way as the fund is also meant to assist the development of high-speed broadband in circumstances where there is no commercial incentive to do so. Minister Rabbite has already indicated that this fund could be deployed to “catalyse and complement” private investment in broadband networks and other digital service infrastructure. The Commission has indicated that not all projects will be suitable for these project bonds so it remains to be seen what approach will be adopted in Ireland. The Connecting Europe Facility, from the EU's 2014-2020 budget, is designed to improve Europe's transport, energy and digital networks.
The European Commission has announced that it will make €9.2 billion available for projects that will assist with the deployment of fibre optic cables across Europe. This plan is part of a larger project, Connecting Europe Facility, which is a €50 billion fund for infrastructure projects across Europe. The project has been announced as part of the European Commission’s continued efforts to improve broadband speeds across Europe which still lag behind some of our major economic competitors. The Commission is taking heed of the effects of state funding in other regions which have made substantial investments in fibre. In Japan, 12% of citizens, consumers and companies have access to ultra-fast internet via fibre networks. In Korea, the figure is 15%. In the EU fibre penetration ranges from 1 to 3%. The Commission’s decision is perhaps an indication of the lack of investment from private sources which continues to be a challenge not just in Ireland but across many member states in the EU. According to the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, a 10% boost in internet penetration could raise GDP levels by up to 1.5%. Some groups argue that the Commission's plan will act as a disincentive for further private sector investment into fibre. It is estimated that €270bn is required for a comprehensive 12
Triumph of the spivs as democracy is sidelined FINTAN O’TOOLE Tue, Nov 08, 2011 EVER WISHED, in a dull moment, that you could have lived through some of the big moments of European history? Well, be careful what you wish for. We’re living through one of them now and it’s not much fun. Historical moments aren’t sudden changes. They’re the points at which something that has been long in the making finally emerges, when something murky crystallises into clarity. That happened last week, and Ireland was a significant part of it. What happened was that two of the big shaping forces of western Europe, forces that have been working broadly in tandem for 300 years, clearly fell apart. One force is capitalism; the other democracy. From the Enlightenment onwards, it has been an accepted truth that democracy and capitalism were at the very least compatible with each other. The things that were needed in order for capitalism to develop – the breaking of aristocratic power, the free movement of labour, an open market in ideas, functioning parliaments, independent legal systems, states that could command popular consent and thus underpin stability, taxation to fund mass education and infrastructure – were also conditions for political democracy. They may not have been sufficient conditions, but they were necessary ones. This is not to say that there have not been huge tensions in the relationship between capitalism and democracy, or
that there have not been periods when the holders of capital preferred authoritarian or fascist regimes. Nor is it to deny that the large-scale inequalities inherent in most forms of capitalism have tended to limit the practice of democracy, through private control of media, the funding of political parties and the ability of the very rich to threaten and intimidate elected governments. The point is simply that the two forces were generally compatible. The trump card of capitalism against communism was clear and simple: we hold free elections and you don’t. What became so dramatically clear last week was that this compatibility has ended. The leading form of capitalism – the finance capitalism that has expanded so monstrously over the last 30 years – is no longer compatible with democracy in Europe. And by democracy in this context I mean just the limited, basic form: universal suffrage and sovereign governments. This is a pretty big deal. Consider the three things that happened in Greece and Ireland last week. Firstly, it was made explicit that the most reckless, irresponsible and ultimately impermissible thing a government could do was to seek the consent of its own people to decisions that would shape their lives. And, indeed, even if it had gone ahead, the Greek referendum would have been largely meaningless. As one Greek MP put it, the question would have been: do you want to take your own life or to be killed? Secondly, there was open and shameless intervention by European leaders (Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy) in the internal affairs of another state. Sarkozy hailed the “courageous and responsible” stance of the main Greek opposition party – in effect a call for the replacement of the elected Greek government. The third part of this moment of clarity was what happened in Ireland: the payment of a billion dollars to unsecured Anglo Irish Bank bondholders. Apart from its obvious
obscenity, the most striking aspect of this was that, for the first time, we had a government performing an action it openly declared to be wrong. Michael Noonan wasn’t handing over these vast sums of cash from a bankrupt nation to vulture capitalist gamblers because he thought it was a good idea. He was doing it because there was a gun to his head. The threat came from the European Central Bank and it was as crude as it was brutal: give the spivs your taxpayers’ money or we’ll bring down your banking system. Again, as in Greece, even the basic forms of democracy were incompatible with this process. There could not be a Greek referendum because there is no acceptable question that can be answered by a democratic vote. And there could not be a debate in the Irish parliament about the extortion of a billion dollars because there is nothing to be debated. Referendums and parliamentary votes are rituals of public consent. But the question of consent is now not just irrelevant. It is reckless, outrageous, downright scandalous. And this isn’t just a simple matter of the Merkozy monster lording it over us little PIGS. For at this historic moment, even the German chancellor is little more than a cipher. She’s caught in the democratic crisis too. Remember this time last year when Angela Merkel started to make noises about bondholders sharing the pain of rescuing the banking system? She had to back down very quickly and make it clear that she didn’t mean present bondholders – heaven forbid. Even the German chancellor isn’t allowed to say certain things. Europe, and the rest of the western world, is thus at a parting of the ways. We can have the form of rapacious finance capitalism that has become the dominant force in our economies and societies. Or we can have democracy. But we can’t have both. © 2011 The Irish Times
between the two is crucial—and hundreds of thousands of jobs; a unique, trusted network of contact with every American house-hold and business; and our fragile economy depend on it. What follows is a comparison of the two visions—the positive ideas from Internet leaders and NALC members versus the draconian downsizing some members of Congress favour. At the conference on the future of the Postal Service held in June in the Washington, DC, area, the postal community went straight to the brains behind the Internet to learn how to handle the challenge of electronic mail diversion. Vint Cerf, vice president and “Chief Internet Evangelist” for Google and a founding father of the Internet, told postal workers and clients that the Service’s universal physical delivery network is something the Internet can never replace and therefore still has great value. “I am convinced that until we get to the 24th century, we are going to need the Postal Service as somebody to provide delivery services,” Cerf said. The conference was hosted by Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, a book that explains how the Internet giant has rewritten the rules of business. “If it can be digital, it will be digital,” Jarvis said at the conference. The trick is integrating the digital world into the Postal Service’s products when appropriate and taking advantage of opportunities to fulfill a service that the digital sector can’t. Like Google, the Postal Service runs a huge network that makes daily business possible. After building its search and other capabilities, Google turned to advertising as a big source of revenue. Increasingly, the Postal Service is following that model, relying on its role as an effective way to move advertising. So it was no surprise that many at the conference brainstormed ideas for new postal revenue that
The U.S. Postal Service must make a choice soon: It can either evolve or go extinct. Our country’s leaders can guide it toward the future, adapting its unique assets to the needs of a changing nation. Or, they can refuse to let it adapt, slowly shrinking it until it can no longer function as a universal delivery system. The contrast between those two visions for the future of the Postal Service is stark. On the one side are the NALC and others committed to helping the USPS evolve to meet the challenges of the future. This group includes the forward-thinking entrepreneurs who are revolutionising communications with the Internet—and who created the e-mail and bill-pay technology that are challenging first-class mail. They agree with the NALC and others in the postal community that the Service can transform itself into a growing enterprise again. “We, the letter carriers, are the Postal Service’s unique network, and we know firsthand that there is no limit to what the Service could become,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “But we can’t do it alone; we need our leaders—in USPS management and in Congress—to start thinking like responsible stewards instead of undertakers.” Among the latter are some of our politicians in Washington, who have already closed their minds to the idea of a future for the Postal Service and who are determined to slash it, piece by piece, until there is little left. Their extremist ideology abhors everything government does—even when, as with the USPS, it performs well as it carries out duties spelled out in the Constitution. A recent conference that gathered Internet leaders and others to discuss the future of the Postal Service put a spotlight on the NALC’s forward-thinking vision. We listened in and compared their optimism with the attitude of some members of Congress who lack this vision. The choice 14
information that improves trust. The ability to easily and quickly certify legitimacy in a sea of “phishing” scams and fakery would be highly valuable to a business. Cerf noted that the government and regulated industries often communicate with the public to satisfy legal obligations, such as notifying the public of a proposed change to a utility service or fee. The Postal Service could establish itself as the trusted, official source of digital communications for legally required communications. Following the conference, Rolando pointed out that if Internet leaders can see a positive future for the institution that is suffering from competition from e-mail, Congress and the American people should take notice. “When you see these Internet and electronic communications leaders imagining a thriving future for the Service, I think that’s a positive sign for our future,” he said.
revolve around advertising and commerce. One speaker, digital communications entrepreneur Larry Weber, pointed to the Postal Service’s address database as a valuable asset that could be exploited, especially by advertisers. Advertisers would relish access to the most complete and accurate list of addresses available—especially if they read a recent academic study published in the Journal of Marketing that found that mail is the most effective means of direct advertising, beating telephone calls or e-mail. Customers, the study found, view mail as less intrusive than the other methods. Weber pointed out that one way the Postal Service could capitalize on its address database is through social media. His idea is that consumers could get information about new shopping opportunities or services directly from other consumers through the change-of-address system. “By far, the most important way people are making purchasing decisions is by recommendation,” he said. “The important thing with this social network is that, when I move, in my new place I want to know where my friends go, what they do. “I don’t think it would be complex,” Weber added. “It would be protected, secure. You change your address, and now you can get a lot of offers.” Every idea presented at the conference seemed to lead to even more. Imagine, for instance, an e-mail address maintained by the Postal Service that is permanently linked to a physical address, belonging to the occupant. It could be used in conjunction with mailed advertising as part of a coordinated ad campaign, where on the same day that a consumer received a direct-mail piece to try a new restaurant, the consumer would receive an e-mail for that restaurant, too. Imagine using this link-up among the Internet and homes and businesses to transform social media into “community media.” Neighbours and people with common interests or needs in a local community could join together and find businesses and community assets nearby, and local businesses could in turn find them easily. The chaos of an Internet with little grounding in the physical world could be remedied as it is to real people living and working in real buildings with real addresses. A confirmed e-mail address linked to a real business or home could shore up another weak spot in the Internet— trust. The anonymity of the Internet has sparked perhaps millions of scams. A coordinated system using mail service could help consumers confirm that businesses, or other individuals conducting person-to-person business through websites, such as eBay, are legitimate. The Postal Service could certify that mail with a given return address actually came from that address, or it could provide physical location
The postal platform The conference speakers didn’t limit themselves to individual ideas and products. They also felt that the Postal Service could borrow a fundamental way of doing business from Internet entrepreneurs—by creating a platform. By initiating a postal platform with basic tools, then inviting independent thinkers to apply their own ideas, much like a computer operating system enables the writing of new software, or smart phones allow for the creation of apps, the Postal Service would be open to innovative entrepreneurs who can see ideas where others can’t. At the postal conference, Boston University Professor Marshall van Alstyne called the platform idea a “sandbox” for USPS customers to play in. “Don’t just have a product strategy,” van Alstyne said. “You need a platform strategy to survive in the digital world.” Open-ended partnerships with companies such as telecommunications providers, banks and advertisers could produce a wealth of new applications that fulfill their needs through the Postal Service. Would advertisers like to coordinate e-mail and direct-mail campaigns targeting specific 15
community,” Rolando said. “More people need to see that technology isn’t going to defeat the Postal Service; it’s going to take it to entirely new places.” Working with the postal community here in the U.S. and throughout the world, NALC continues to build knowledge and innovation that will lead the USPS into the future. Next month, NALC and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers will co-host a conference of postal unions from around the world to share ideas in conjunction with the UNI Global Union’s World Postal Conference.
consumers based on data collected on the Internet? Or conduct “permission-based” campaigns in which consumers opt in to receive coupons by e-mail and products or product samples by mail? Or totally integrate their Internet sales and shipping systems for maximum efficiency? Or offer a system for virtual payment over the Internet with the real payment securely sent by mail? The possibilities are endless. Letting customers find ways for businesses to serve them opens up a whole new avenue of developing business, but it would require a major shift in attitude on the part of the top-down, singularly task-oriented Postal Service. “Building a future requires bravery,” Rolando said. “And that’s what it would take from the Postal Service: The bravery to stop thinking about what customers can’t do and start finding ways to make their imaginations come to life.” Rolando is confident that the Postal Service can make the leap. “The Postal Service experienced a ground-shaking change that required a shift in its culture when it became an independent, financially self-sufficient agency 40 years ago,” he said. “It can adapt to a new age again.”
Avoiding the death spiral With all the options for making the most of the Postal Service’s unique assets, including optimistic ideas from some of the most forward-thinking, visionary business leaders of our day, you’d think politicians would be open to positive ways to build the Service up—especially those who claim to admire business and entrepreneurship. Yet the best that many political figures, from congressional leaders to presidential candidates, can think to do is give up and go home. Take Tim Pawlenty. The former governor of Minnesota, who is running for the Republican nomination for president, has his own way of looking to Google for inspiration. He calls it the “Google test.” Anything you can find using Google that is offered by a private business, he says, shouldn’t be a government function. He includes the Postal Service, citing its private shipping competitors. Ignoring all the other obvious flaws in Pawlenty’s logic, it’s clear that Pawlenty doesn’t understand what the Postal Service really does. As President Rolando wrote in a recent letter to Pawlenty, “Contrary to what you said in your speech, left to their own devices, companies would not provide universal mail delivery at affordable, uniform rates (44 cents for a basic letter).” Getting rid of the Postal Service wouldn’t save the federal government a dime either, since it is an independent agency that takes no taxpayer funding. In fact, since the pre-funding of retiree health care benefits counts as income for the government, the Postal Service actually makes annual federal budget deficits appear smaller. Then there are the ideas coming from members of Congress like Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), chairman of the sub-committee that oversees the Postal Service. In June, they introduced what they call a comprehensive postal reform bill in the House of Representatives. But instead of focusing on restoring financial health and growth to the USPS, their bill, H.R. 2309, proposes radical changes that would recklessly downsize the U.S. Postal Service in away that would seriously damage the $1.3 trillion mailing industry and the entire U.S. economy. “We are very disappointed in the IssaRoss bill,” Rolando said. “We hoped for a more
It’s the network Other ideas for a postal future come from the network of carriers, vehicles and retail locations that go to, or are located in, every nook and cranny of the nation. One came from Michael Ravnitzky, chief counsel to Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway. Ravnitzky suggested in an opinion article in The New York Times that postal vehicles could form a huge network for many kinds of data collection. “The Service’s thousands of delivery vehicles have only one purpose now: to transport mail,” he wrote. “But what if they were fitted with sensors to collect and transmit information about weather or air pollutants? The trucks would go from being bulky tools of Industrial Age communication to being on the cutting edge of 21st-century information-gathering and forecasting. “After all, the delivery fleet already goes to almost every home and business in America nearly every day, and it travels fixed routes along a majority of the country’s roads to get there. Data collection wouldn’t require much additional staff or resources; all it would take would be a small, cheap and unobtrusive sensor package mounted on each truck.” The National Weather Service is already testing the use of busmounted sensors that transmit the data. Today’s technology makes sensors small and unobtrusive. Imagine the possibilities: sensors to monitor weather, radiation, cell phone signal coverage, pollen levels, gas leaks, or even cameras to snap “Street View” photos for Google Maps. Rolando is leading the charge for radically rethinking the way the Postal Service uses its one-of-a-kind national network. “Mr. Ravnitzky’s ideas about sensors on postal vehicles are just the kind of thinking we need from the postal 16
unelected groups authorized to take extreme steps to cut costs and reduce services, one to generate lists of post offices and facilities to be closed and one to serve as financial overseers with the power to alter or nullify collectivebargaining agreements and to make other operational decisions to reduce expenses. Instead of saving the Postal Service, Issa and Ross want to cut service, lay off workers, slash employee benefits and reduce management flexibility while adding yet another layer of bureaucracy. In other words, it’s the first step toward dismantling the Postal Service altogether. “Eliminating Saturday delivery, and the other extreme measures in this bill, would begin a death spiral for the Postal Service,” Rolando said. Competitors would rush to fill the Saturday hole, and customers would follow, many finding their weekday shipping needs elsewhere, too. The revenue lost would overwhelm any savings. With business lost and no flexibility to do anything but cut, the Service would simply eliminate more service, such as another day of delivery. And the cycle would continue, a death spiral ultimately leading to the end of the Postal Service. That’s the choice the stakeholders in the Postal Service have: To build a new and vital Postal Service, with new products and responsibilities, or to cut it apart and sell off the pieces. You don’t need to look into a crystal ball to see which future is better for businesses, for letter carriers and for all Americans.
common-sense, practical and non-ideological approach to an institution that has historically engendered strong bipartisan support. Instead, we got a draconian downsizing plan and a misguided and unjustifiable attack on hardworking postal employees who provide the most affordable and highest-quality mail service in the world.” Rather than taking sensible action to avert a financial crisis that would result from the failure of the Postal Service to make the next unaffordable $5.5 billion pre-funding payment for future retiree health benefits (due in September), the bill seeks to take advantage of the pending cash crisis to force a massive down-sizing and to launch a frontal assault on the pay, benefits and collective-bargaining rights of postal employees. The bill would allow the Postal Service to eliminate Saturday delivery and repeal the right of postal employees to bargain over health and life insurance benefits, a right won more than 40 years ago. It also would inject political issues into the process for resolving collectivebargaining impasses and unfairly restructure interest arbitrations by giving pro-management factors top priority in the law. “It seems the war on collective bargaining that we have seen in the states has come to Washington,” Rolando said. Under the Issa-Ross plan, tens if not hundreds of thousands of good middle-class jobs, many of them filled for decades by military veterans, would needlessly be destroyed. The core of the bill is the creation of two
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS’ UNION BAND The CWU Band is seeking new members!!! Are you interested in joining a band and making new friends? Are you a brass, woodwind, or percussion player? All musicians are very welcome! We rehearse every Sunday morning at CWU premises on the North Circular Road, Dublin 1 To find out more, please contact: Jimmy O’Keeffe at 087-7970880; Ciaran Scarlett at 087-2266640; or Email: email@example.com
Beginners and New Members Welcome! 17
ComReg Rules Vodafone Switch to e-Billing is Breach of License from the point of view of the environment and reduced costs, this has to be balanced against customers interests and preferences. Any switch should only be made on the basis of a clear customer choice that is not imposed or attached to price penalty. ComReg has indicated that there is a consultation on the introduction of e-billing and that any switch should be postponed until this is complete. If Vodafone fails to comply with ComReg’s wishes it could be subject to a High Court order. For its part Vodafone has stated that it was following the example already set in the industry and that if customers wanted to avail of a paper bill they could do so at no extra charge. Effectively this is forcing customers to opt ‘back into to paper billing as opposed to opting for e-billing, which is what the regulator wants to see – in other words that the switch should only happen at the customers request.
ComReg sanctioned Vodafone for switching from postal to email billing, while charging customers €2 for each paper bill. In a repeat of what O2 customers were subjected to in October of 2010 once again ComReg has had to step in to prevent the imposition of e-billing on unsuspecting customers. At that time ComReg was forced into action after consumer rights groups, customers and the CWU pointed to the unfairness of such a switch without customer consent. Vodafone began informing 200,000 customers that they would be receiving their bills online instead of by mail in coming months. Following ComReg’s intervention it is expected that this practice will end for these 200,000 customers though the company has two weeks to respond to the regulator. ComReg found that the switch was in breach of its licence agreement. The regulator noted that there is a keen desire among mobile operators to move their customers to e-billing and while they are cognisant of the benefits that may accrue
Obelisk – Members vote in favour of Industrial Action The Union’s concerns about Obelisk were well founded, not long after members transferred from Vodafone, Obelisk set about attempting to change the framework agreement and this included stopping pay when diaries were not submitted on time, attempts to change subsistence arrangements, attempts to dictate what branch of the Union members should belong to, attempts to change pension arrangements, and force in the use of GPS without agreement. In light of these developments the Union convened a special general meeting of the thirty members involved at which a ballot for industrial action was conducted. An indication of the depth of feeling of our members was borne out by the ballot result which was 30 votes cast in favour of industrial acton. To date the Union has not been required to implement the ballot result as the issues in dispute have been resolved. The Union’s preference is to deal with employers through agreed partnership structures, however as evidenced by events in Obelisk where employers refuse to use partnership structures and attempt to railroad in changes, we have no hesitation in reverting to the more traditional methods of dealing with employers.
Earlier this year Vodafone announced their intention to outsource their network operations and following a tendering process Obelisk, a communications company based in Cavan were awarded the contract. The Union raised concerns at the decision to outsource the network operations and to the awarding of the contract to Obelisk. Our views on Obelisk were based on their anti trade union attitude that operates in the Company. After months of difficult negotiations during which time the Union employed the services of solicitors, accountants, and a pensions advisor, agreement was reached on a comprehensive framework industrial relations agreement covering a wide range of issues designed to protect our members’ terms and conditions of employment. The agreement also provides for a tripartite forum involving CWU, Vodafone and Obelisk. The purpose of the forum is to oversee the implementation of the agreement and to monitor its progress and from a Union perspective we believe Vodafone has a responsibility towards long serving employees who moved to Obelisk. 18
Christmas and New Year Opening Hours 2011/2012 Christmas time is a hectic time of year, we ﬁnd it difﬁcult to attend to everything on our lists, therefore we at credit union are willing to ease the stress of rushing around before closing time and have added Saturday opening hours as an improved service to all our members.
Saturday Opening Hours Saturday 3rd December 11am-2pm Saturday 10th December 11am-2pm Saturday 17th December 11am-2pm
Christmas Break The ofﬁce will close on Thursday 22nd of December 2011 at 6pm. We will open on Thursday 29th of December from 10am to 1pm. We will re-open fully on Tuesday 3rd of January 2012.
REMEMBER LATE OPENING EVERY THURSDAY UNTIL 6PM
55 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.
e-services & communications credit union ltd. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
Growth is the key. Pre-Budged Submission, 2012 The following is a document prepared by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions called “Growth is the Key” which is the Pre-Budget Submission of Congress in October 2011. Copies of the full document can be downloaded on www.cwu.ie
Bank customer Major breach at call
IDs go for a song security alleged centre
CWU JOB SHARERS SERVICE LEAVE CLAIM UPHELD BY LABOUR COURT An Post management act in scrooge like fashion to deny Job Sharers half days leave after ten years service! Work Act 2001. The matter was referred to the Rights Commissioner Service under this Act and he rejected the Unions claim. However the Labour Court upheld the Unions appeal. An Post has decided to appeal the Labour Court decision to the High Court. The Labour Court have intimated to the Company in their decision that it is not a legitimate defence to deny a right to individuals based on costs. It is the Unions view alleged costs are seriously over stated. All of this to justify denying their staff, our members a maximum of one extra days leave to job sharers after they have served more than ten years service.
Following the reintroduction of Service Leave a dispute arose regarding the manner in which the Company allocated service leave to job sharers. The Company advised the Union that they applied Service Leave to Job Sharers on a pro rata basis. The Union contended that the Company should allocate it based on the Job Sharers Service. In support of its position the Union highlighted the fact that it had already successfully argued at the Labour Court that Service Leave was not annual leave and should be treated separately. The Union believed the manner the Company allocated service leave to job sharers treated them less favorably than comparable full time employees, contrary to Section 9 (1) of the Protection of Employees (Part Time )
~ LABOUR COURT DECISION ~ five years’ service and two additional days leave after ten years’ service. The Complainants have in excess of ten years’ service and as job-sharers the Respondent provides them with 25 days leave in total, which is adjusted pro-rata by fifty per cent, yielding them twelve and a half days’ per annum. The Union submitted that the Complainants were being treated less favourably than their full-time comparator contrary to Section 9(1) of the Act. It maintained that the Respondent’s application of service leave to the Complainants meant that they were in receipt of one day’s service leave and not two as provided to comparable fulltime employees with similar service. The Union stated that its claim was based on the number of years worked by the Complainants and was not dependent on the number of hours worked by them. The Respondent stated that service leave is applicable to both full-time and part-time (including job-sharing) employees. It confirmed for the Court that the service leave in question is granted on attainment of the number of years’ reckonable service with the Respondent and is not dependent on the number of hours worked. It stated that in ascertaining the number of years service attained by an employee only absences of one year and over are disregarded. The Respondent denied that it was in contravention of
DETERMINATION The dispute came before the Court by way of an appeal by the Union on behalf of Ms. Mary Thomas and Ms. Paula Riordan (“the Complainants”) against the decision of a Rights Commissioner given under the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, 2001 (the Act) in relation to the entitlement of job-sharers in respect of service leave. The Rights Commissioner found in favour of the Respondent’s position and upheld that its practice of granting service leave to the job-sharing Complainants proportional to the hours worked of a comparable fulltime employee. Background The Complainants are employed by An Post (“the Respondent”) as Post Office Clerks at its headquarters in the GPO, Dublin. Both Complainants are employed as job-sharers under the Respondent’s Job-Sharing Scheme, governed by Circular 17/2002. They are required to work half the normal hours of a full-time comparator and their terms and conditions of employment are adjusted on a pro rata basis dependent on the hours worked. In this case the two Complainants work week-on, week-off. On the week they are rostered on they work full working days. The basic annual leave entitlements are 23 days. The Respondent also provides one additional day's leave after
Postal Update the Act and held that in paying the Complainants on a pro-rata basis for service days it was in compliance with the principle of pro rata temporis.
“for proportionality to apply the benefit must be dependent on the hours worked by the part-time worker in any particular period vis-a-vis the hours worked by the full-time comparator in any particular period. This is a claim in respect of service, which is dependent on the number of years worked by the claimant. It is not a claim dependent on the hours worked and therefore in the view of the Court, Section 10 of the Act is not applicable in this particular case.”
The Applicable Law The Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, 2001, was enacted to transpose into national law, European Council Directive 97/81/EC. Clause 4 of the Directive states:“where appropriate, the principle of pro rata temporis shall apply.
On this occasion the Court’s finding produces a certain anomalous result as some of the Respondent’s job-sharers who work mornings or afternoons only will have a legal entitlement to a pro rata entitlement while the Complainants have a legal entitlement to the same benefit as their full-time comparators by virtue of the fact that they work full working days when rostered to work. This emerges from the fact that the benefit is service-related and not dependent on the hours worked.
Section 9 (1) of the Act states: " subject to subsection (2) and (4) and section 11(2), a part-time employee shall not, in respect of his or her conditions of employment be treated in a less favourable manner than a comparable fulltime employee." Section 10 (1) states:
" The extent to which any condition of employment referred to in subsection (2) is provided to a parttime employee for the purpose of complying with Section 9(1) shall be related to the proportion which the normal hours of work of that employee bears to the normal hours of work of the comparable full-time employee concerned".
Without prejudice to its position that the job-sharers were being treated equally with comparable full-time employees, the Respondent also submitted that it could not afford to pay the cost associated with conceding the claim. The Court is of the view that that contention could not be accepted as a defence since in almost every case in which it is necessary to implement principles of equality there is a cost to the employer. The Irish legislature decided not to introduce a provision into the Act that would permit a person to avoid the requirements of the Act on cost grounds.
However, Section 10(2) of the Act qualifies Section 10(1) in stating that the condition of employment mentioned in 10(1) is a condition of employment the amount of benefit of which is dependent on the number of hours worked by the employee. Based on the uncontested details of the criteria for attainment of the service leave in question, the Court is satisfied that it is not dependent on the number of hours worked but rather is dependent on the number of years’ service attained with the Respondent. Accordingly, Section 10 is not applicable. In accordance with the principles of law applicable in the case of Gerster v. Freistaat Bayern (C1/95) 1997 IRLR 699 where the ECJ held that the practice of crediting job-sharers with 0.5 year’s service for promotional purposes for each actual calendar year’s service was unlawful, the Court finds that the practice of applying the principle of pro rata temporis to service leave in respect of the Complainants, who are both rostered to work full working days, is contrary to the Act.
The Decision of the ECJ in of Hill and Stapleton v Revenue Commissioners  E.L.R. 225 held “ An employer cannot justify discrimination arising under a job-sharing scheme solely on the grounds that the avoidance of such discrimination would involve increased costs” Determination The Court determines that the Respondent's policy of paying half-pay for service leave in respect of the two Complainants constitutes a contravention of section 9(1) of the Act. In accordance with its powers under section 17 (1), the Court determines that the complaint is well-founded and overturns the Decision of the Rights Commissioner.
This Court found in Dunnes Stores Letterkenny v A Group of Workers, PTD046:
The Court so determines.
Christmas Arrangements 2011
Accordingly, the Monitoring Group decided that the following would apply this year:
CHRISTMAS PERIOD ARRANGEMENTS 2011
Over the last number of years, the Monitoring Group has been required to provide assistance to the parties in reaching agreement on the Christmas mails work arrangements. These circumstances have arisen due to differences between the parties in relation to the application of Work Standards during the Christmas pressure period in Mails Operations. The Monitoring Group has, through its interventions and determinations, put in place arrangements intended to give clarity to the parties in their deliberations and to provide a framework for further discussions in order to ultimately reach agreement on objectively assessing the level of extra resources required at Christmas. In this regard, in November 2010 the Monitoring Group set out a process for the parties to follow during 2011 to achieve this outcome, as well as a decision on the arrangements which should apply at Christmas 2011. The parties have been in discussions during 2011 but have been unable to make any real progress and the matter has been referred once more to the Monitoring Group. The Monitoring Group has been made aware that a key issue which has impacted on the ability of the parties to make any real progress this year was the impact of the adverse weather throughout December 2010. It is evident that the severe weather impacted significantly on mails arrival patterns at all delivery units nationwide throughout December 2010. In addition, the additional industrial engineering work required by both parties as follow-on from the 2009 work (i.e. an assessment of the impact of increased hit rates and volumes on rural delivery times) was not completed.
CHRISTMAS CASUAL DELIVERY STAFF Cork, Dublin and Limerick DSUs No casual delivery staff employed
Other Delivery Offices Casuals deployed at the same locations as pertained in Christmas 2010.
OVERTIME The level of Christmas pressure overtime paid to staff at DSUs and DSOs (excluding Dublin DSUs) should be as per the level in the determination in respect of 2010.
Dublin DSUs The level of overtime per each member of staff in Dublin DSUs is 72 hours
SATURDAY 17TH DECEMBER 2011
All Delivery Offices There should be a full nationwide delivery of 10 hours
TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE CHANGES In April 2009 the Revenue Commissioners announced that they were reducing the Civil Service Rates by 25%. In order that the mileage and subsistence rates paid in An Post remained compliant with the Revenue Commissioner Regulations, the Group of Unions agreed to reduce the rates in line with the reductions proposed by the Revenue Commissioners. This was an interim arrangement to enable discussions take place between the Company and the Group of Unions as to how future changes would take place. At the time of going to print, the Group of Unions were giving careful consideration to a draft proposed agreement for changes in Travel & Subsistence arrangements which contained the following:
4. 5. 6.
Rates going forward to be adjusted in line with Civil Service rates Subsistence Rate Bands to be reduced from four bands to two. This increases the rates for Classes C and D which applies to Overseer, IOP, POC, Postal Sorter, Postperson / Postal Operative. Day subsistence limits reduced from 8km to 5km with overnight limits increased from 24.2km to 48,4 km The Company will deduct from overnight subsistence where meals are provided Revised rates changes effective from January 2011 No changes to the mileage rates.
All of us will need help at some stage in our lives. It may be that we are facing a serious illness and the associated costs of health care. We may need to talk to someone in a confidential manner to help cope with a difficult personal circumstance, particularly in today’s challenging economic environment. The Medisan provides much needed assistance for members in need of medical care for a wide range of illnesses including cardiac illness, cancer treatment, diseases of the central nervous system such as MS and other illnesses which can impact on an individual’s life. The fund is completely confidential and will also provide assistance toward VHI or other healthcare providers shortfall in meeting the expenses associated with such illnesses.
For more details on how to avail of assistance from the fund contact your Welfare Officer – An Post (01) 7057000 or Eircom (01) 6714444
Greater Equality Will Aid Recovery
Pictured l to r: David Joyce, David Begg, Minister Kathleen Lynch, Davin Roche, Carol Baxter, Broden Giambrone and Annette Dolan (Pic John Chaney) Article Sourced from ICTU Website, www.ictu.ie
Congress General Secretary David Begg has said that greater workplace equality could aid our economic recovery and help ensure that we create “a more sustainable growth model in the years to come.” Speaking at the launch of a series of workplace equality resources and guides, Mr Begg said: “Those societies that prioritise equality across all spheres of social and economic life are more stable, less prone to crisis and more economically efficient, the Nordic countries being a fine example.” “During the property and credit boom all the evidence suggests that Ireland became a more unequal place. And the evidence now is that the austerity drive has aggravated that inequality,” Mr Begg said. The materials were launched formally by the Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health & Older People, Kathleen Lynch TD. The materials include: resources for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers and trade unions; a revised disability code of practice for trade unions, to include mental health issues; guidance on taking an equality case and a study on developing an integration strategy for unions, in relation to migrant workers. The resource guide for gay, lesbian and transgender workers was produced in association with the Gay & Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) and the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI). Speaking at the launch, Davin Roche, Director of Workplace Diversity with GLEN, said: “Equality in the workplace is a key issue for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. There has been enormous progress for lesbian and gay people in Ireland over the last 20 years. Congress and the trade union movement have played a very important role in supporting this work. The recent introduction of Civil Partnership continues this progress in bringing equality in the workplace in the area of pensions and workplace benefits for same sex couples. This guide provides very practical information for LGBT employees and trade unions on a range of LGBT workplace equality issues.” 28
Equality Update Addressing the difficulties faced by transgender workers, the Director of TENI, Broden Giambrone, said, “Everyone has the right to work with dignity, and we all benefit when there is respect and equal treatment. Unfortunately, transgender workers often face challenges in the workplace due to high levels of prejudice and discrimination. This guide represents a positive step towards workplace equality by providing trade unions and managers with the tools and knowledge to support transgender workers.” Brian Merriman of the Equality Authority, which sponsored some of the publications, said: “It is important unions and employers have the tools necessary to enable them to ensure statutory obligations to employees are fully met. We now know that engaging with employers on equality reduces the incidence of discrimination. “Our Pregnancy at Work research, published this year in partnership with the Crisis Pregnancy Programme of the HSE, confirms that organisations with equality policies are less likely to discriminate against their pregnant workers. Other research shows that equality compliance produces a productivity dividend. We owe it to workers and their employers to do what we can to ensure that their workplaces take discrimination seriously and are properly equipped to tackle it.” “This welcome initiative with Congress makes an important contribution to improving equality compliance and the workplace experience for employees in challenging times,” Mr Merriman concluded. (The launch was attended by Paul Torsney on behalf of the CWU)
CWU Completes Equality Representative Training Programme
The CWU ran the Equality Representative Training Programme on September 20th & 21st in Union Head Office. The Equality Representative is a support role to the Branch Secretary who can assist with equality related matters such as work/life balance, statutory and non-statutory leave, disability in the workplace etc. Pictured back row l to r: Alan Cowzer Dublin C&A, Mick Colgan Dublin C&A, Alan Tyrell, Mullingar Postal, Tom Prendergast, Portlaoise Mails Centre, and Declan Flanagan, Vodafone Front Row l to r: Robert Monaghan, Eircom Portlaoise, Mary Bond, Dublin Postal Clerks, Ann Kilmartin, Athlone Postal and Alan Brennan, Meteor/Rigney Dolphin. (Missing from picture Bernie Judge Dublin C&A)
Convoy to Bulgaria, September 2011 Submitted by Rory Duggan and Pat Broderick
toiletries and toys which were an essential part of it. We arranged a number of collection days in Citywest and Eircom 1HSQ, all of which proved very successful. We left a number of empty boxes in these buildings which enabled people to purchase items from the wish list and deposit them for collection. It wasn’t long before they started to fill up with much need of aid. I was fortunate to have previously booked a collection slot at my local supermarket, to support this year’s convoy. Pat and I, together with the help of my daughters did a bucket collection one weekend, which added to the coffers. After weeks of fundraising, we had set about renewing our contacts to get the best possible prices for the items on our wish list. In one major store they gave us a very generous voucher, and a personal shop assistant to help us with the variety of items required, when told we were visiting Children’s orphanages.
This years Convoy Destination was to deliver much needed aid to two Orphanages in Bulgaria. The Eircom truck with Pat and I at the helm, travelled to Stara Zagora about 350 Kilometres from the capital Sofia. While the An Post truck driven by Steve Perry and Declan O Mara travelled to Purvomai about 200 Kilometres from the capital. Having both been on a previous convoy, Pat and I drew on all our experience from previous fundraising efforts, and made sure that once again the aid we delivered was of the highest quality. So undaunted, we grasped this second opportunity with great enthusiasm to help the CWUHA charity. We fulfilled our wish list of items for this years convoy to the Orphanages in Bulgaria. We knew we faced a difficult task especially with the downturn in the economy. But with the goodwill and support we received from our work colleagues and the staff at CWU HQ, it all worked out in the end. The Orphans we visited ranged in age from 6 yrs to 16 yrs, some with physical and mental disabilities and others had been placed in the orphanage because their parents could not afford to look after them.
Loading the Trucks Thanks to our fellow drivers from An Post Steve Perry, Declan O Mara and especially Paul O’Neill, we used the Merrywell facilities to pack and weight every item on our wish list. Both trucks used the weighbridge at Roadstone to make sure we did not exceed the 7.5 fully laden limit.
Fundraising Our wish list was made up of winter and summer clothing, footwear, along with special needs equipment, beds, bedding, 30
Our visit to the Orphanages
On the 8th September we met up with the An Post Drivers, Steve and Declan, at 6am in Dublin Port for our sailing to Holyhead. Thanks to John Wallace, driver from 2010, our outgoing trip was free and the return journey was half the normal freight price with Stena Line. After a 3 hour incident free crossing we docked in Holyhead and headed for Hull, a 6 hour drive. There we meet some other members of the convoy and stayed overnight. The following day we meet with the rest of the convoy at Hull mail centre and were briefed on what was planned for the weeks ahead. Afterwards we were issued we our red books an essential part of the drivers kit providing details of the journey, accommodation in Bulgaria, various vehicle documents, rules and regulations of the CWUHA charity. The staff at the mail centre provided us with refreshments and prior to our departure we got a send off from Alan Johnson MP and CWUHA patron. Then it was an overnight trip down the North Sea to Zeebrugge and onto motorway through Belgium. As on previous convoys, the push was on to cover as much mileage in a day as is possible, as we have to consider possible breakdowns, traffic congestion and other unforeseen events. The journey took us along the motorways through Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and a ferry, crossing the Danube taking us into Bulgaria. Accommodation had been planned for our first 3 days, Kist in Germany, Regensburg in Austria and Budapest, Hungary. We passed through the border into Romania with relative ease, on previous convoys there had been many hours spent waiting around for our paperwork to be checked and rechecked and then finally approved. The roads in Romania can be challenging as the infrastructure would not be up to EU standards yet. The occasional crazy driver keeps us alert as they have no problem overtaking on blind bends or long stretches of road were overtaking is prohibited. Even juggernauts will attempt to do the same manoeuvres in an attempt to overtake the entire convoy, the rule here is to leave enough space and let them through and arrive alive. Our accommodation for our first night in Romania was basic enough, but after the long drive, itâ€™s a bed to lay your head. After a somewhat sleepless night due to the cement factory at the rear of the hotel operating all night, it was an early start, 6am, a very quick breakfast and hit the road. We were heading for the ferry in Calafat to cross the Danube into Bulgaria. After squeezing around 15 trucks onto the ferry we crossed the river in about 20 minutes and continued the final 300k to Sofia. We were able to secure our vehicles on the outskirts of Sofia in a compound, with a patrolled security guard. It was quite late when we finally arrived at our hotel accommodation in Sofia.
The following morning was delivery day and we assembled in the hotel lobby at 9am after a good breakfast. We collected the Trucks from the compound and departed for our orphanages, at this point the convoy split, An Posts Declan and Steve along with a BT truck headed for Purvomai. Pat and I along with 3 other trucks headed to the Stara Zargora region. We visited two Orphanages in the region, ours was in a small village called Sladuk Kladenec and the other was in the village of Petrovo. The first stop was at institution in Petrova for physically and mentally disabled children. This was a first visit for this orphanage and the staff were a little unsure as to the motives of the charity and were a little stand-offish. The female director had set down some guidelines, no photographs being the main one. She showed us around and the need was obvious. It was a terrible sight to see and some of us broke down as we went from room to room. Although the staff were doing what they could, they were restricted with limited resources. Hopefully the humanitarian Aid that has been delivered will go some way to ease the lives of these deserving children. We continued on to Sladuk Kladenec. The Children in our home varied in age and some had severe learning difficulties, others with less difficult problems, but all were delighted to see us. This was the second visit for this institution and the director was most welcoming as were the staff. We unloaded the trucks in no time and handed out some sweets and toys. Some of the children spotted the bicycles, one of which had been donated by Pats daughter. Immediately they tried them out with Pats assistance. We got the opportunity to interact with the Children. Its the human contact that these children needed and to know that they are being looked after, when we have departed for home, makes the trip all the more worthwhile. The Director invited us around the orphanage and we were able to see that the beds and lockers which CWU Ireland and Medisan donated had arrived. They had already been set up and put to use in brightly painted dormitories. The Children were very eager to show us their own individual beds with matching lockers The following day we had a rest day before the long journey home. We knew the journey back was going to be more difficult as it was a long slog with everyone wanting to get home to see their families. The journey home was another night in Romania, one in Hungry, one in Germany and on the 4th night we got as close to the ferry port as possible to allow us to get a sleep in. Every other morning was either a 7am to 8am start. That night we stayed in Brugge and had time to do some sightseeing. The next day it was an overnight sailing to Hull then a long journey to 31
Holyhead for the ferry to Dublin. We arrived back in Dublin on the 26th September after travelling approximately 7000Kms. It was great to get home and to tell our colleagues of the convoys success. We would like to finish by saying that this was a fabulous experience and we would recommend that anyone with the appropriate licence (minimum requirement C1) should put their name forward for this very rewarding charity. There is plenty of help within the CWU to help volunteers prepare for the convoy. On that note we would like to give the biggest thank you to Monica in Union Headquarters who did everything in her power to make our preparation as easy as possible. We would also like to thank Jimmy O’Connor for his guidance and Caroline Corcoran of Eircom for her fundraising and her help to source the Aid. We would also like to thank Eircom for providing the fuel and transport and Matt Lynch for organising same. We would also like to thank all individuals and branches who helped with fundraising.
Humanitarian Aid 2011 At the time of writing Branches raised €36,796.91 since January 2011. The CWU Charitable Fund sponsored the Fund €10,000.00 and Medisan gave a donation of €6000.00 this funding received went towards the purchase of 2 washing machines, beds, lockers, mattresses and carpets for the orphanage on behalf of our CWU members contributing into these funds. The Dublin Postal Delivery Branch sponsored the wool blankets and fitted sheets for the new beds, this year and all other funding received from various sources in eircom, An Post, private companies, CWU Officers and Staff went towards the purchase of a Hi Fi system and tapes with a Sony System for the children’s dormitory including disability aids, children’s clothing and shoes. The Convoy was once again a great success and without your financial support and the hard work of all concerned this would not have been possible. An expression of thanks is genuinely extended to everyone who did Trojan work towards achieving this objective.
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CWU Ireland Humanitarian Aid Fund. Bank of Ireland 2 College Green Dublin 2
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Branch Secretary Stage 2 Course, September 2011
Pictured Back row l to r: Hugh Quinn, An Post Donegal S.W, Paddy Cunningham, DPD, Gavin Mulcahy, Cork Postal Drivers and John O’Shea, Killarney Postal. Front Row l to r: Catherine O’Neill, Eircom Waterford C&A, Angela Rowntree, An Post Castlerea and District, and Timmy Donovan, Cork Mails Centre.
This year we ran our Branch Secretary Stage 2 course in our current premises on Exchequer Street. The Stage 2 course should be attended by Branch Secretaries who have completed Stage 1 and are in their second or consecutive term as Branch Secretary. The course was attended by Branch Secretary’s from An Post, Eircom and DPD. Our thanks to all those who attended. Paddy Cunningham, DPD, participating in the Branch Secretary Stage 2 Course.
Kells Committee Training
A committee training course was held in Kells for the Postal Branch committee. The trainers on the day were John Tansey and Ray Lawlor and the course was well attended. Our thanks to the branch for organising the course. The course was held on Friday October 28th and Saturday October 29th over two half days. In attendance were Declan McCaughley, Jane Duffy, James Quail, Cyril Pakenham, Claire Brady, Monica Brady, Noel Taite, Dessie Kierons and Noel Flanagan.
Branch Secretary Stage 1- Trade Union Studies FETAC Level 5
Pictured Back row l to r: Geraldine Counihan, Tralee Tels Ken Good, Letterkenny Postal, Jim Higgins, Roscommon Postal Shane Murphy, Eircom Dublin no 3 Front Row l to r: Padraig Oâ€™Connor, Enniscorthy Postal Alan Walsh, Ballinasloe Postal Moira Coleman, Eircom Galway C&A Angela Neary, Castlebar Tels.
The Union ran another Branch Secretary Course in October. This is now a FETAC certified course and those who successfully complete the course work will achieve a FETAC level 5 certificate in Trade Union Studies. Pictured left: Moira Coleman â€“ Galway C&A
Committee Training Tullamore Postal Committee training was held for the Tullamore Postal Branch on Friday, September 23rd and Saturday September 24th. Our thanks to all those who attended over the two days and we hope that the committee will benefit from the training going forward. In attendance were Helen Colgan, Colin Boland, Michael Feery, Anne Gormley, Tommy Kelly, Michael Connolly, Damien Mannion, Noel McRedmond, Martin Boland and Pauline Dempsey.
Nespressure returns with mass dismissal of union members in Indonesia/provocation and attacks on union leader in Pakistan Management pressure on workers and their unions continues at Nestlé, the world’s largest food company.
Nestlé management failed to turn up for the scheduled meeting. Following this provocative rebuff, the strike resumed on September 28, and the union filed for an eventual extension of industrial action should it be necessary. The strike attracted sufficient attention in the media that a delegation from the provincial parliament came to Panjang on October 3 and asked to meet with the union members inside the factory. Nestlé management rejected this request. On the morning of October 5, the local Labour Department called SBNIP and Nestlé management to mediation but management sent only junior company representatives who were not authorized to take any decisions in the mediation process. The union had looked to the mediation as an opportunity to make the case that it could not sign an agreement whose provisions were incompatible with government recommendations, and therefore potentially illegal. In this mediation the union agreed to end the strike at 1PM the same day and a memorandum prepared and witnessed by the Labour Department was signed by the union president, Eko Sumaryono and the Nestlé management representative. Significantly the reference in this document to the strike of September 21-October 5 does not make any reference to the strike being “illegal”. The strike ended at 1PM in accordance with the agreement and in two telephone calls between the union and Nestlé management at 6:27PM and 7:52PM, it was agreed to meet the next morning, October 6, to discuss finally signing the collective agreement. But from 10PM on October 5 Nestlé management launched the mass dismissal of union members. When the strike ended as agreed on October 5, union members on the second shift reported for duty at 2PM and, although management did no re-start the machines, they completed their shift. But when union members arrived for the third shift at 10PM they were faced by a cordon of security guards at the factory gates, with riot police on standby inside the factory grounds. Security guards called out the names of union members, handed them “resignation” letters one by one and then sent them away. The same letters were also sent to their homes. Dozens of termination letters were issued on October 6. This ruthless reaction by Nestlé came after the conflict
Management at the Nescafé factory in Panjang has fired 53 of the 87 members of our affiliate SBNIP (technically they were handed “resignation letters”!) after the union took industrial action in support of their collective bargaining demands. The strike was the predictable result of five years of deep frustration. On March 31 this year, SBNIP and local Nestlé management signed an agreement (initialed by the IUF and Nestlé corporate management on March 28) which finally opened the way for the union to bargain the Panjang workers’ collective agreement, including the wage bargaining which Nestlé management had been steadfastly rejecting for years. Negotiations were difficult, and eventually deadlocked when the union called into question the enormously unequal spread in proposed wages within the many individual job categories, a spread which in the union’s view failed to comply with government regulations. With negotiations at an impasse, the union filed notification to strike in accordance with the legal requirements, and the SBNIP members - representing the majority of unionized workers at the factory - ceased to work on September 21, and peacefully occupied the plant to ensure that no product would be leaving the factory. The company responded by denouncing the strike as illegal and ordering people back to work. During the strike workers received phone calls and two letters - letters from the company that Nestlé now claims were legal summons. As tensions escalated, workers left the factory premises on September 26, briefly occupied the football field (inside the factory grounds), and then left the factory as a sign of good faith for the negotiations scheduled for the following day. The next day, however, with the union announcing a return to work pending the outcome of the negotiation, 36
was resolved under the auspices of the Labour Department and the strike was already over in accordance with the official memorandum that the company and union signed. More incredibly, even after the union agreed to sign the collective agreement, Nestlé management still continued its mass termination. This extreme bad faith on the part of the company reveals the company’s determination to crush the union regardless of the conflict being resolved. This was not about the strike - it was the culmination of five years of attempts by Nestlé Panjang management to destroy a union that dared exercise its collective bargaining rights. To demonstrate their refusal to accept this mass forced “resignation” and to express their determination to be reinstated, the unfairly dismissed union members collected the severance pay that was automatically transferred to their bank accounts on October 5 and attempted to return it to the company. On October 7, when union and management representatives were called to a meeting by the local parliamentary commission, union representatives handed over the severance money. Nestlé management - left speechless by this - refused to take it and left. Union delegates at the IUF-A/P Regional Conference (Bali, Indonesia October 18-20, 2011) carried an emergency resolution on trade union rights violations at Nestle Panjang (Indonesia) and Nestle Kabirwala (Pakistan).
Pakistan in 2007 to become the company’s largest milk reception factory in the world, than management set about trying to undermine the union and attacking its energetic and effective president, Mohammad Hussein Bhatti, who was suspended in June 2007 for resisting management interference in union elections. Nestlé was forced to back down and Bhatti was reinstated. But pressure on the union continued and has again come to a head, stimulated by the union’s decision to open its membership to the numerous contract workers at the plant and to assist 250 contract workers to become permanent employees - in accordance with the law - by filing legal cases at the Labour Court. Bhatti and the IUF-affiliated National Federation of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Workers gave important support to the Casual-T struggle at the Unilever Lipton tea factory in nearby Khanewal - and it would appear that Nestlé’s local management has determined to resist similar demands for an end to abuses of precarious employment arrangements. While the court has issued ‘stay orders’ enjoining management from changing the contract workers’ status until the cases are decided, management has terminated many workers’ contracts and organized a calculated provocation by inviting new contract workers for a factory ‘visit’ - creating the impression that they will replace those fighting for permanent positions after years of precarious employment. Rather than meeting the union’s demand to negotiate the employment status of precarious workers at this ‘world class’ facility, management has tried to mobilize local opinion against the union and its president and fomented a series of incidents and provocations involving false criminal charges (subsequently thrown out by the court) and inciting extremist religious organizations to attack the union. On October 10, union president Bhatti was stopped by security at the factory entrance and informed that he was suspended for four days, then repeatedly suspended for four-day periods since.
Picture shows delegates protesting against Nespressure inflicting mass dismissals at Panjang and false criminal charges against union leader in Pakistan.
The Panjang strike was an understandable response to years of struggle for the right to form an independent union and engage in meaningful collective bargaining with one of the most powerful corporations in the world. The company’s local management has deliberately stoked accumulated frustration, engineering a series of events which it is attempting to exploit in order to undermine years of struggle in a country where workers are still denied their fundamental rights.
Stop Nespressure! Tell Nestlé management in Vevey that local Panjang management must unconditionally reinstate the fired SBNIP members and enter into good faith negotiations which have been delayed too long! Pakistan management must rescind the suspension of union president Bhatti, stop provoking, intimidating and dismissing union members and officers and enter into good faith negotiations with the Kabirwala union.
Nespressure stalks Pakistan No sooner had Nestlé expanded its plant in Kabirwala, 37
Colombian palm oil workers strike for a collective agreement and against precarious work. Thousands on palm oil workers in the Puerto Wilches district of Colombia are now on a general strike to defend collective bargaining and oppose the spread of casualisation and precarious work on palm oil farms. Their dispute dates back to early August when a major company, Palmas Oleaginosas Bucarelia, refused to enter into meaningful negotiations with the IUFaffiliated SINTRAINAGRO for the renewal of the collective agreement.
Union Sindial Obrera and 22 campesino organizations, NGOs and human rights groups. The assembly adopted a 5point declaration of support for the striking Puerto Wilches workers.
Bucarelia instead proposed to cut benefits, to restrict union activity on the farm and to increase precarious work through more use of Associated Labour Cooperatives (Cooperativas de Trabajo Asociado (CTAs - see below). At the end of August, Bucarelia workers decided to call a strike and set up a protest camp in front of the company. SINTRAINAGRO asked the Ministry of Social Protection to intervene to try to resolve the dispute and on September 6, the Ministry called a tripartite meeting to analyze the conflict and to explore possible ways forward. The IUF’s regional office, REL-UITA and the Colombian trade union confederation, CUT were also invited to the meeting. However the company continued with its intransigent position and insisted on acceptance of its opening proposal i.e. cuts in premiums and benefits and increased use of outsourced. At the end of September workers from the other palm oil farms in the area decide to join the strike. Tension in the region rocketed on October 12. While workers were attending a meeting at the local office of the Ministry of Labour in Bucaramanga, the employers brought in carloads of people from other municipalities to try to force workers to return to the farms. These “protesters” were accompanied by the police and the mayor of Puerto Wilches. SINTRAINAGRO has complained to national and regional authorities and to the Human Rights Commission about the police increasing tension in the region and their harassment of strikers. The union has now issued a global call for solidarity. On October 22, SINTRAINAGRO convened a general assembly in Puerto Wilches with workers from the striking farms, national and regional representatives of the CUT, the
You can support their struggle! REL-UITA has set up a campaign page to send a message directly to the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos. The message is a statement of support for SINTRAINAGRO and the striking Puerto Wilches workers in their struggle to renew their CBA and to oppose a form of outsourcing which, the message explains, “is responsible for job insecurity, poverty and hunger in Colombia”. The message calls on the President to intervene urgently and “take the necessary steps for early signing of a new collective agreement”. Over 2 million Colombians are employed through Associative Labour Cooperatives (CTAs) in the sugar, palm oil, health, mining and port industries. CTAs enable companies to subcontract workers through third-party intermediaries without the responsibility of providing contracts and basic benefits to employees. Workers in CTAs have no collective bargaining rights, and companies don’t respect even the basic labour standards. Unions have been fighting the spread of CTAs for several years. In 2008 the IUF and SINTRAINAGRO supported a strike of sugar cane workers resisting CTAs. Production of palm oil in Colombia has rocketed in recent years – the area under palm oil cultivation has tripled. Colombia is now the 5th largest producer globally and the largest in Latin America. According to FEDAPALMA, the palm oil producers’ organization, 80,000 Colombians work in the palm oil sector. When palm oil was first introduced into Colombia it was mainly for domestic consumption but since 1990 palm oil exports have increased significantly and now make up an important part of Colombian agro-industrial exports. 38
Cormac Oâ€™Dalaigh, Vice-President of CWU, presents cheque to President Hiroshi Usuki, at UNI World Conference, on behalf of CWU members. 39
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INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY HOUSING FUND Presentation of €26,000.00 was made by the Intellectual Disability Housing Fund to KARE in Station Road, Kildare.
Pictured l to r: Frank Joyce, CWU Trustee eircom, Monica Hempenstall, Finance Officer, Fintan King, Finance eircom, Gene Cassidy, KARE, Residential Housing Association, Imelda Faney, KARE, Emmanual Cassidy, Naas Postal, John Byrne, KARE.
KARE was started in 1967 by parents and friends of children with an intellectual disability. They wanted the children to be able to live at home and go to a local school. We still want to help people with an intellectual disability to live a good life in their local community. We always want to improve how we do things. We work with the people who use our services, their families, and other important groups like the Health Service Executive. We write an Annual Report each year to tell people how we have done in the past year. KARE works in counties Kildare, east Offaly and west Wicklow. We in KARE see a future where people with an intellectual disability are seen as equals and take part in society along with everyone else.
Adult Supports are organised through our network of Local Services and Community Houses. We believe that people with an intellectual disability are important and should be a part of their community like everyone else. We support people through: • • • • •
There are presently over 40 people being supported to live outside the family home, either on their own or with other people who have an intellectual disability. The generous fund received from the CWU will be used to upgrade bathroom facilities in two of KARE’s housing association houses to make them wheelchair accessible.
We believe that everyone: • • • • •
Personal Development and Life Long Learning Supported Employment Sport and Leisure Supports for Living outside the family home Health and Well Being, including a range of Clinical Supports.
should be treated with dignity and respect has a right to make choices and take control over the direction of their life has a right to education and the opportunity to learn new skills has a right to have good friends and relationships should use their talents in a way that contributes to their community
For further information on KARE go to www.kare.ie 42
Challenging Times for Staff at Billpost
Billpost, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of An Post, has been impacted greatly over the last two years as a result of the downturn in the Irish economy.
Despite the increased range of services offered however, Billpost experienced a substantial decline in its business due to the downturn of the Irish economy. This brought serious challenges for Billpost and its staff. During 2010 the Company announced that it would need to implement redundancies in order to ensure that the continued viability of the business and following discussions with the CWU, the Company introduced a voluntary redundancy scheme for staff. 2011 saw further decline it Billpost’s business and the Company advised the Union that there was a requirement to further reduce costs in an attempt to attract new business. The Union entered discussions with management with the primary objective to secure the future of Billpost in Kilrush, maintaining the maximum level of employment possible and the opportunity for the staff to earn the same levels of income into the future. In terms of pay, the Union was successful in maintaining starting pay and progression rates for staff. The areas of change which were necessary to address unit cost issues related to increased performance targets across the business as well as an increased focus on attendance management. The Company also introduced a voluntary short working scheme across all areas of the business for the last three months of 2011. Notwithstanding its current difficulties however, both the Union and the Company are confident that if we continue to work together to deal with the challenges facing the Company, Billpost will survive as a vibrant, reputable Company into the future.
The Company, which was established in 2000 and is based in the picturesque town of Kilrush Co Clare, traditionally processed bill payments made by post on behalf of large utility companies as well as processing over the counter payments made at non automated post offices. It also carried out a number of other key functions on behalf of An Post and its other subsidiary companies such as Gift Voucher Shop processing, Proof of Delivery (POD) card signature scanning and data entry. With the movement away from cheques and paper based bill payments, as well as the full automation of An Post’s Post Office Network and the rollout of hand held scanners to replace POD cards at delivery offices, the Company foresaw challenging times ahead and successfully diversified and expanded its operations and service offering to customers to include: • • • • • • •
Database Management Document Imaging Services Payment Processing Lockbox Payment Processing Telepayments Processing Customer Account Enquiries and Reconciliations B2B Account Enquiries and Centralised Billing
UPS European Works Council
The Union is pleased to announce that it will be supporting Willie Day in the forthcoming election. Willie, who is currently the Branch Secretary of the UPS Dublin Branch, is also a member of the Union’s National Executive Council. We believe he would bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to role and would represent all UPS Ireland employees on the European Works Council with the same enthusiasm and professionalism that has made UPS Union members proud since he became involved with the Union. In the weeks ahead the Union will be seeking the support and assistance of all members during its campaign to ensure that Willie is elected as the representative of choice for all UPS Ireland employees.
The Company has confirmed that elections to the UPS European Works Council will take place during the first quarter of 2012. UPS Ireland is entitled to elect one employee to sit on the Council and one reserve nominee. As advised in the last issue of Connect, it is the CWU’s intention to seek to have a trade union representative from within the Company elected to fill the Irish seat on the Council.
Charlie Kelly, Ex-President and NEC Member, Last day on the job Charlie Kelly NEC and former President of the CWU recently retired after thirty nine years working for An Post. Charlie started his career in Sheriff Street in Dublin where he worked for two years before returning to Letterkenny to take up the Trentagh rural post which he held for twenty five years. Charlie became involved with the union early in his career and only missed two conferences from 1977 to 2011. After working for many years as branch secretary, a position he held until he retired, Charlie was elected to the NEC. In 2008 Charlie was elected president of the CWU, which Charlie regarded as the highest honour that could’ve been paid to him. Over his years in the union working on committees and different boards Charlie made many friends from all over the country. When a retirement party was held recently in
Dublin for him many of these people travelled from all over Ireland and the UK to join him in his celebrations. There was a dinner dance held in Letterkenny to mark Charlie’s retirement attended by his family, friends and work mates. Speeches were made on the night by Ken Good who has taken over as branch secretary from Charlie, as well as Ed Margey Post Office Manager, Damien Tuohy and John Tansey NEC members. Another night was held for Charlie by his customers on the Trentagh post. It was held in Harleys pub in Trentagh which was on Charlie’s delivery round. There was a big turnout on the night with music and dancing. Charlie was given gifts which everyone had donated towards, showing the high regard in which Charlie is held locally. Even though Charlie has retired it is hard to keep a good man down. He is now organising the new retired member’s branch. This will enable retired members of the CWU to stay up to date with developments in the union and to have a say regarding their pensions, and we wish it every success. Finally we would like to wish Charlie and his wife Sally and his family a very happy and long retirement together.
Seán McDonagh, Charlie O’Neill, Charlie Kelly & Terry Delany.
D.P.D.B. members, past and present, with Charlie.
Gerry Cuirc, President, presents Charlie with a gift, with Steve Fitspatrick
Lorraine, Ciara, Adrienne, Sarah & Imelda wish Charlie fondest farewell.
Pictured above: Charlie with his son, Darragh.
Pictured left, from l to r: Retail staff on Charlie Kellyâ€™s Retirement: Damien Touhy, Donal Gillen, Charlie Kelly, Ed Margey, Brendan McGinley and Danny Mailey
Drogheda District Branch – Longford Section Retirements
Retiring members of the Longford Section, pictured l to r: Lorcan Connaughton, Brendan Bannon, Peter Burke, Frank Flood, Pat Rock, John McCarthy, Mick Brady and Gerry Creegan
Gerard Bourke Section Secretary, Aidan Kellegher Section Chairman presenting the Union Scroll and badge to Peter Burke on his retirement.
Aidan Kellegher Chairman Longford Section presenting a gift to former Chairman Brendan Bannon
Seán Fitzpatrick Retires Frank Donohoe (Branch Secretary DPDB) presents Séan Fitzpatrick (Postal Sorter, Merrywell Parcel Depot) with his Union Scroll on the occasion of his retirement after 30 years service at a function in the Red Cow Hotel.
Limerick Postal Branch Retirement of Sean Real “Legendary Postman, Real by name and Real by nature!”
sand and cement for an old dear along his route. In the office Sean was the pulse or warm hub of everything from his commitment to the Union, (particularly in the mammoth strike of 1979) to his magnificent charity work. During his time Sean, along with the help of his colleagues has raised thousands of pounds, punts and euro’s for very deserving causes such as Milford Hospice, Limerick Marine Search and Rescue and the Spina Bifida Association. I think this brief tribute should leave readers in no doubt that the term Legendary Postman is well merited. He will be sorely missed by all of us. On behalf of us all I wish Sean and his lovely wife Carmel many years of happiness in the sunshine of his retirement.
Wednesday 1st June 2011 marked the end of one of our most distinguished and colourful careers in the History of An Post. A strong opening paragraph you might think but a very worthy way to define Sean Real. Sean began his career at An Post in 1968, and was trained on a particular duty in 1970. Astonishingly Sean remained on that duty exclusively until his retirement in June this year. This has got to be a record in our job. Sean has always been described as “An Old Fashioned Postman”. There was nothing he would not do for what he termed “his people”. He would collect people’s groceries or pensions in the event of them being ill, he even backed a few horses for the elderly house bound gentleman. He has even been known to shovel
Tommy Kelly Retires Tommy Kelly Postman Carrick on Shannon Branch retires after 42 years service. Tommy started on 16th May 1968 in Drumfin Sub Office Co. Sligo moving to nearby Riverstown Sub Office on 22nd September 1989 where he retired from. He followed in the footsteps of his late father Patrick Kelly who worked as a Postman in Drumfin Sub Office from 1926 to 1968.
Pictured from l to r: John Tansey NEC, Tommy Kelly and Larry Oâ€™Beirne Branch Treasurer.
Paddy Joe McNelis Retires Pictured receiving his presentation, front row l to r: Paul Harkin, (Cluster Manager), Martin Patton (DSM), Paddy Joe McNelis (Retired), Michael Gallagher (Branch Secretary) and Kevin Doherty (Manager DMC).
A presentation was made to Paddy Joe McNelis by Management and Staff at his retirement function on Friday 16th September 2011 after 31 years of loyal service to the CWU and An Post. Paddy Joe delivered the post in the St. Johnston area of Donegal for the past number of years but also covered most duties within the office over his 31 year career. He is pictured with colleagues, past and present who attended on the night. The Lifford/Inishowen Branch of the Communications Workersâ€™ Union would like to wish Paddy Joe a long and happy retirement.
Robbie Cahill Retires Robbie Cahill, Dublin Drivers Branch, recently enjoyed his retirement function in Scruffy Murphys, where he was presented with the CWU Union Scroll and received the wellwishes of his friends and colleagues, for a long and happy retirement. Pictured l to r: Tony Hardiman (Chairman) Derek Kavanagh (treasurer) Robbie Cahill (Retired) Terry Delany (Deputy General Secretary) Stephen Behan (Retired), Maurice Cassidy (NEC and Branch Secretary)
An Interview with Ned Pyne – Balbriggan Postman A trip around Balbriggan and its environs with postman Ned Pyne, who has lived all his life in the town and spent thirty nine years working in the postal service, is a great way to spend a Monday morning. The town of Balbriggan and the postal service across Ireland has changed dramatically since ‘the happy days’ of 1972 when Ned began his career in the sorting office in Sheriff Street. A year later he transferred to Balbriggan to work alongside his late father Paddy and two other postmen Joe Keenan and James Cann, delivering letters and parcels to Balbriggan and its environs. At this time Balbriggan post office was based in Dublin Street and was run by postmistress Julia O’Connor. “Postmasters and postmistresses were an elite group of people and had their own set ideas; everything had to be done right. They actually gave us a great grounding and great training but you didn’t dare step over the line,” Ned laughs. He describes working with his father Paddy as “an honour because he was a gentleman, but difficult at times for both of us. I wouldn’t be the most patient with authority, not like my father’s generation where they just agreed with everything.” Ned’s reluctance to accept change for its own sake led to him becoming the CWU (Communication Workers Union) representative for An Post staff in Balbriggan. “No one minds change when it’s constructive but An Post didn’t go down to the fella on the ground to see what changes were needed, even to get an input,” Ned comments. He believes the biggest mistake made by An Post was the closure of many rural post offices although he accepts ‘there was a cost factor and some had to go which was fine.’ The sorting office in Balbriggan now distributes post to Garristown, Oldtown, Ballyboghall, The Naul, Stamullen, Gormanstown, Rush, Lusk and Skerries in addition to Balbriggan, and Ned rues the fact that older people have to travel to the centre to collect parcels that Ned and his staff are only allowed keep for three days before returning to sender. “To an extent we’ve lost the personal touch, the social contact the postman had with people. Years ago you could go into the country and a person might say ‘Ned I won’t be here tomorrow, if you have a parcel please put it in the shed or leave it at the door’ but you wouldn’t dream of doing that now.” At that time life was lived at a slower pace and Ned reminisces calling to Mrs Sweetman up at Knock Cross “who’d have a big mug of tea ready for me, and lots of brown bread. I’d be falling asleep after she’d fed me,” he laughs. At that time Ned travelled his route on a Honda 50 provided by An Post but in the early days he describes ‘flying around on a bike.’ A bike alone would be impossible nowadays with Ireland’s burgeoning population and Ned praises the practical initiative of An Post introducing ‘drop off boxes’ to enable postmen deliver ever increasing volumes of mail efficiently. “The postman gets his bag ready at the depot and a driver drops it off at the box where
the postman on his bike collects it. The postman then drops off his empty bag taking another full one out before heading off again.” With their distinctive green colour “lots of people think the drop off boxes are actually post boxes and go mad because they can’t drop their letters in,” Ned laughs. As Ned drives me around I am in awe of his power of recall. “Basically you have to have a good memory as a postman. I remember the roads, the names and in the past I remembered the faces. That’s impossible now with the vastness of the area.” Indeed I am struck by the number of houses and apartments in Balbriggan but there are refreshingly few unfinished developments. Ned points out ‘fine green areas at Moylaragh and Ashfield where children can play.’ While he feels Balbriggan ‘was chopped up like a cake’ he believes ‘you have to have progress and change.’ He is delighted to have his daughter Caitriona living in Mount Rochford, across the road from where he and his wife Brenda have lived for thirty six years in the field he ‘played football in as a child.’ To cover the increase in population, there are now forty five postal workers ‘on the ground’ in addition to office staff and three or four night staff.’ Ned’s son Neil has spent the summer months delivering post in the Balbriggan area but will shortly return to college in Luton. It’s undoubtedly in the blood as Ned’s brother Tony delivers in Lusk and his cousin George is due to retire shortly from the route he serves in Bayside and Sutton. Postmen have an early start and Ned arrives at the ‘state of the art’ sorting office where he describes the working conditions as ‘first class,’ at 6am, and finishes up at 2.30pm. “It’s never a problem apart from my day off when my body clock doesn’t allow me a lie in,” he laughs. Ned is a fascinating tour guide and raconteur. His pleasure in his job as a postman is palpable as is his admiration and frustration with An Post who have employed him for thirty nine years. “I enjoy the job, in fact I love it. It’s not about letters it’s about people.” His deep connection with Balbriggan where he has lived all his life is obvious and he has always fully engaged in local issues, being forthright in his opinions and ideas as Labour Councillor for fifteen years and long- time Union Representative for An Post staff in Balbriggan and outlying areas, in addition to developing community facilities such as Balscadden Blues Soccer Club. Ned shows no desire to slow down or retire any time soon ‘sure what would I do?’ he laughs.
Andy Tolan Retires A function was held recently, to mark the retirement of Andy Tolan from Balbriggan D.S.U. A large group of Andy’s work colleagues and family attended the function in McCormack’s, Balbriggan, where the Union Scroll was presented to Andy by Frank Donoghue, Branch Secretary. Ned Pyne, Andy Tolan, Mrs Tolan and Frank Donoghue.
Pictured l to r: Sam Deegan, Peter Phillips, Andy Tolan, Bernard McGrath, Darragh Flanagan and Sean Coleman.
Andy Tolan being presented with the Union Scroll by Frank Donoghue, Branch Secretary.
Dublin Postal Sports Club Blitz!
Photo shows the club chairman, Charlie O’Neill, presenting the trophy to the winning team: Phil Cuffe (capt), Gary Byrne, Larry Byrne, Mick Condon, Gary Dunne, Dave Higginbottom, Declan Corbett, Cormac O’Brogain, Seán Connellan, Paul Kelly, Phil Kane and Joe Reynolds. 50
The annual blitz took place in the club on Saturday 15th October 2011. The event was won by the Clonsaugh DSU team in a playoff with last year’s runners-up, Rathmines D.O. A great day was had by all participants and supporters alike. The teams were very impressed with the refurbishments in the club since last year and are looking forward to renewing rivilaries next year.
A Tribute to the late P.J. Guckian through change of ownerships, the introduction of new technology, restructurings etc. Like his colleagues he adapted to every situation, embraced the changes and moved on. A more helpful person than PJ would be hard to find. No matter how busy he might be, he was the one person that could be relied on, to go to any length to help a colleague or a customer. It is said if you want something done you should ask a busy person. That person was PJ. He would never let you down. P.J. played an active role in the communications workers union throughout ids working life, serving on the branch committee for many years. Also serving as treasurer and ultimately as branch secretary, a post he held until ids retirement. His attention to detail and innate sense of fair play and kindness earned him the support and respect of all his colleagues. He was involved in organising many national events including biennial conference's symposiums etc., where he made lasting friendships at union headquarters and throughout the country. Whether it was work or union related PJ brought the same level of dedication and conscientiousness to every task. No job was too big or too small for PJ his hard work, organisational skills and advice, ensured the successful running of any enterprise he was involved in. Of course he brought his own sense of humour to every occasion, and always contributed to and enjoyed the everyday banter that makes life possible in the workplace. It was fitting that such a large crowd should have attended PJs' funeral mass. The guard of honour provided by ids former colleagues as he was taken to ids final resting place was a tribute to the high esteems that PJ. was held in by all. We feel a great loss and sadness at PJs passing. He will forever be in thoughts of all that had the pleasure of knowing him and working with him. The Communications Workers' Union would like to express our sincere sympathy to PJs wife Mary, to his Daughter Emer, to his sons Mark, Rory and Robert to all his family and friends and all his colleagues in the Communications Workers Union and in eircom.
It is with a great sense of sadness and loss that we mourn the death of P J Guckian. PJ was formerly of eircom and the Galway clerical and admin branch of the CWU. P.J. lost a difficult battle with illness and passed away on Thursday 6th October 2011. A hale and hearty P.J. took early retirement from eircom about three years ago. As was to be expected by all that knew him, P.J. had settled into a very active retirement. He involved himself with a variety of projects, including, part time work, set dancing, development courses, improving on his garden, (if that were possible as it was a credit to him). He also looked forward to having more quality time with his family. Little were any of us who attended a most enjoyable retirement party, on that fine summers evening, to celebrate P.J.'s transition to a new way of life, to know, that he would get so little time to indulge in his new activities. Just over a year into his retirement P.J was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This diagnosis came as a major shock not only to P.J.'s wife and family but to all his former Colleagues throughout eircom and in the CWU. The courage and dignity that PJ displayed since that time was consistent with the same courage, dignity and unselfish manner that characterised his whole life. P.J. never indulged in self pity, he glossed over all his discomfort, even when his treatment was intense and painful. When we called to see him he was reluctant to dwell on his own illness. He wanted to know "how are things on he union front" or "whatâ€™s happening in eircom" he was always interested in ids former colleagues, and how they were doing. The time visiting was spent on general chat, local happenings, politics etc., Regarding his own situation he would just say "it will be fine I just have to be positive and get on with it". He remained cheerful and positive throughout many, many setbacks and never lost ids sense of humour. While fighting his illness right to the end, he did so with a dignity that should serve as an inspiration to us all. P.J. had a long and varied career in eircom starting out in the former Department of Post and Telegraphs. He witnessed at first hand the various manifestations of the company
May he rest in peace. 51
“OUR DAMO” ~ R.I.P Damien Parker had been working next to only a few hours earlier would never ever be in the office again. The atmosphere at work the following morning was, to say the least, surreal. It was one of deep loss and emptiness. One of our lads on night work had placed a simple night light on Damos’ bench just underneath a picture of Damo’s two beautiful children, on whom he doted. It was heartbreaking. It really is unbelievable that something that so many of us at An Post take for granted, hopping on our bicycle to do our delivery, can, in a split second, result in such tragedy. Obviously Damo’s removal and burial was attended by literally thousands of people. All of us started at five on the morning of the burial so that we could go and say farewell to our dear friend Damo – great worker, a wonderful colleague, a regular ball hopper, a small man, a huge stature. That was and always will be “Damo”. God bless you and keep you.
Thursday May 26th is a day that will long live in the memory of all of us in the Limerick Delivery Office. It was on this fateful day that we lost our dear friend and colleague, Damien Parker. The day started out like any other, with the usual 6 o’clock banter and slagging off, all in good taste of course, but it did not prepare us for the devastating news that would arrive come lunchtime. It was at around 11.40 when Damo was involved in an accident on the main Limerick to Ennis Rd. At around noon-time, word would have filtered around, via texting etc., that this was far more serious than initially thought. As we arrived back at base at around lunchtime there was an air of despondency and sadness that we had never experienced. But Damo was still hanging in there at the I.C.U in the Regional Hospital. It was around 2.40 when the news came round. Despite all our Prayers and all the efforts of the medical teams, Damo had lost his battle. It is really hard to fathom and accept that a guy whom you
Peter McCaughey RIP attendance at his funeral. Peter was a great family man and his passion for life, outside of his love for his wife and kids, was the great outdoors. Peter loved fishing and was also a member of the local gun club. He fished all over Ireland and even travelled as far away as Russia to fulfill his hobby. It was a passion he shared with his two sons, John and Peter. On the day of Peter’s funeral, the post in Dundalk and surrounding area came to a stand-still for a couple of hours, while Peter’s work colleagues, past and present, lined the street with a Guard of Honour to St Fursey’s church and cemetery in Haggardstown, to say their final farewell as their senior postman went to his place of rest. To Peter’s wife, Carmel, sons, John and Peter, daughter, Aoife, and extended family and friends, we offer our sincere sympathy. Peter McCaughey was one of life’s true gentlemen and he will be remembered in our hearts forever. Goodbye Peter. May he rest in Peace
It was with great sadness that the staff of the Dundalk DSU and Retail Office learned of the passing of our friend and colleague, Peter McCaughey. Peter joined the Post & Telegraph Service as a messenger boy at the age of 14, back in 1967, and at 18 moved to Dundalk where he was appointed a postman, amounting to 44 years service with An Post. Peter was the senior postman in the office and was held in that highest regard by everyone. He was a friend to everyone and he lit up the office every morning with his Banter. He will be especially missed by the rural postmen, better knows as the “comer boys”. There wasn’t a morning passed where Peter wouldn't have them laughing and joking and you could feel the energy of life coming out of that part of the office when Peter got the craic going. Even now, when the lads talk about Peter, you can still feel his energy. However there is a void there now that will never be filled or never forgotten. For the last 25 years, Peter was the rural postman for the Dromiskin area and his passing evoked much sadness in the area. This could be seen by the people from the area in
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Books reviewed by Adrienne Power
THE CHOSEN by Arlene Hunt Taunt thriller that keeps you turning the pages. It starts with an action packed scene as Jessie Conway, a teacher in a small town high-school, manages to stop an all-out massacre when two kids with guns lock up the school and start shooting. Jessie’s best-friend and the vice principal as well as a number of kids are killed that day. Jessie gets caught up in a media thunderstorm which causes further problems for her and her family. She becomes the focus of a clever serial killer called Caleb Switch, who kidnaps his victims, locks them up in a basement for days and lets them loose to hunt them like a wild animal. There are some wonderful characters in this book especially the main character Jessie with such a strong survival instinct, her husband, Mike, brother in law Ace and the intrusive journalist Darla. Arlene Hunt is from Dublin. This is her 7th book. Her other 6 books were set in Ireland but The Chosen is set State-Side. It has a lovely eye-catching white cover rather than the dark and gloomy covers you normally see on thrillers. This is the first book to be published by Portnoy Publishing which is run by Arlene and her husband. If you are looking for good writing, well paced suspense, an exciting mystery packed full of emotion and action – this is the book for you!
Terrific Thriller! PANDORA’S SEED by Spencer Wells An extraordinary book written by a geneticist who takes us on a journey through our past to help us save our future. He explores a multitude of fascinating subjects which affect us. Like the fact that Urbanisation is becoming more popular whereby half the earth’s population lives in cities. He explains that as a species we are long accustomed to growth, expansion and consumption and that we need to create a different lifestyle for long- term sustainability. In another chapter he tells us that the earth has a finite supply of fresh water and that Agriculture and industry use huge amounts of water e.g. it takes at least 1,000 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef and more than 500 gallons to produce a pound of rice. We have the illusion that resources are unlimited but continued expansion is unsustainable. We need to want less. It means learning from people who retain a link back to the way we lived in the early part of human history. There is a very interesting chapter about how threats to us as human beings used to come from the outside but now we are attacked from within due to stress, disease and environmental damage. Then there is the major threat from global warming which will probably be the biggest social challenge of the 21st century and beyond as we adjust to climatic changes. Pandora (from the title), in Greek mythology, was the first woman whose curiosity made her open the box she was forbidden to open by the Gods and release all the many harmful things kept inside like plagues and disease upon the earth but she managed to close it to hold on to the final thing inside the box, which was hope. Hope - human being’s sole comfort during misfortune. The main message of this book is that we need to downsize our lifestyles to survive and in that way there is hope for our future.
An extraordinary book! 54
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