HUNDREDS of protestors marched through the streets of Cork city today to protest the proposed closure of the Cork Mail Centre in Little Island.
The closure will affect around 240 people.
Staff at the mail centre set up an action group to defend their jobs after An Post announced the closure last month.
The group, named the Cork Mail Centre Action Group (CMCAG), organised today’s protest which saw hundreds march from Grand Parade to the GPO behind a banner reading ‘Save Our Mail Centre - Save Our Jobs’.
Chants of “Simon Coveney and Fine Gael, our jobs are not for sale” and “don’t trust An Post” rang out through the crowd as they marched.
Paul Foran has worked in the mail centre for the past 16 years.
Speaking today, he said the decision to close the centre was “selling out Cork workers”.
“We’ve been sold out and we’re being paid a pittance.
“I’m 61 and what I’d get is not the same as what somebody younger would get for working less years,” he explained.
“We’re going to fight this all the way.”
Mr Foran said people were in tears when they heard the news towards the end of last month.
“There are families there, husbands, wives and children working there and it’s their whole income gone.
“People took out mortgages on the strength of having the job and now it’s gone.”
Fellow mail centre worker Charlotte Gillis said: “Since the news broke our lives have been turned upside down.”
Ms Gillis added the decision makes little sense given the fact the mail centre is the only one in the south and that parcel business is “booming”.
Fellow worker Geraldine Byrne said people over the age of 60 are being given less in their redundancy pay.
“Personally, I am going out with €4,100 and my job is gone,” she revealed.
“There are 19 of us in the same boat.”
Barry Murphy, President of the Cork Council of Trade Unions, called on An Post management to invest in their staff and honour the recent Dail vote.
He also called on the Tánaiste Simon Coveney to support the protest and call for a reversal of the decision.
Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O'Brien attended the protest, saying:
“There’s a lot of jobs on the line and people have rallied around the workers, their families, their friends.
“You can see the crowd that’s here today and it’s to send a message not only to An Post but also to Simon Coveney that this is not acceptable.”
Local Sinn Fein Councillor Thomas Gould labelled the closure a disgrace and said it is time for Fianna Fáil to tell the Taoiseach that unless he ensures the Little Island Mail Centre remains open, they will bring down the government.
Lord Mayor of Cork City and Fianna Fáil Councillor, John Sheehan, admitted the decision has put a lot of strain on the Confidence and Supply Agreement currently propping the government up.
“The nature of confidence and supply is that you have to have confidence that the government will deliver within certain parameters - there a broad range for the whole economy - but certainly this does not help it,” he said.
“Our leader Michael Martin has raised this issue and put pressure on the government.
“We do have an agreement with the government and I think that’s coming to its natural conclusion but certainly I think we need to put more pressure on both as a city and as a party to prevent the loss of this mail centre.” Among the others at the rally was Solidarity TD Mick Barry who led chants, Cllr Fiona Ryan, Deputy Michael McGrath (FF), Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) and Deputy Donnchadh O'Laoghaire (SF).
Deputy Barry has called for the centre to be turned into a parcel centre which handles letters as well.
An Post previously said that the closure of the Cork branch will be phased in between September 2019 and March 2020 and staff will be offered exit packages or possible redeployment opportunities within An Post’s networks in the Cork area.