Local councillors have expressed concern regarding rumours that the board of An Post are considering closing the Athlone Mail Centre.
The board have commissioned McKinseys to carry out a report on the status of the mail centres in Athlone, Portlaoise, Cork, and Dublin. Their findings will be presented shortly, with the closure of a Midlands mail centre reckoned to be a likely recommendation.
This is causing huge concern and worry for the centre’s 183 workers, most of whom are young with families and mortgages.
Fianna Fáil councillor Frankie Keena said: “I am absolutely shocked and horrified that they could be even contemplating closing the Athlone Mail Centre. Geographically, Athlone Mail Centre is ideally located in the heart of the Midlands with excellent transport links to all parts of the country.
“It serves the longest An Post transport links in the country from north Donegal to the southern tip of County Clare. This is the most efficient mail centre in the country and proof of this is shown by the fact that it has won four out of five internal An Post ‘Top Mail Centre’ competitions from 2011 to 2015.”
Cllr Keena also noted that there are key customers serviced by the centre, such as the Department of Education & Skills and the State Examinations commission.
“It’s unthinkable what the future holds for the State Examination Commission in Athlone if the mail centre closes,” he warned.
Fianna Fáil’s Aengus O’Rourke said he has met with staff from the centre, whom he described as being realistic.
“I accept, like the staff do, that changes are necessary and efficiencies have to be found in order to secure the future of the company,” he said. “However, management and Government must ensure that staff are consulted with, are kept informed and are given options. In my view the best ideas can and will come from the staff if engagement is genuine from all sides.
“For example, rather than the company taking a sledgehammer to the problem, they could first of all offer a round of voluntary redundancies to staff and see what this yields. My information is that the company might be surprised by the numbers willing to consider this option.”