Blow for An Post as Comreg signals intention to control postal costs
THE STATE’S communications regulator signalled yesterday that it intends controlling postal costs to ensure their affordability.
The Commission for Communications Regulation (Comreg) yesterday published a statement outlining its strategy for overseeing the postal service between now and 2014.
The statement warns that all postal prices must be affordable in order to ensure that all customers can use the service.
It also says that charges have to reflect the actual cost of providing the service and have to be transparent.
State-owned An Post recently asked Comreg to allow it increase the cost of stamps.
The company did not specify an amount, but reports indicate that the standard cost may rise to 65 cent from 55 cent.
Comreg has yet to rule one way or the other on the State company’s request.
An Post’s response to Comreg’s strategy document, which is separate from its request for a price rise, calls for “appropriate” increases.
The company published details earlier this year of plans to cut 1,500 jobs between now and the year 2016.
Its response, made to Comreg last October, says it will cut 1,500 “full-time equivalents”.
That terms indicates that it may not necessarily reduce numbers by 1,500, but could make savings through other means, including over time cuts or reducing part-time hours.
However, a company spokesman said yesterday that “1,500 full-time equivalents will still be very close to 1,500 jobs”.
The spokesman pointed out that An Post has cut 1,100 jobs since 2008. The plan to increase this to 2,600 by 2016 is part of an overall strategy.
That also involves increasing charges for providing the Republic’s universal postal services. Comreg regulates charges such as the price of stamps.
An Post argues that the importance of maintaining the universal postal service overrides Comreg’s other aims.
It also points out that the programme for government recognises the importance of its services.
Recent litigation has soured relations between the regulator and An Post.
Comreg intends appealing a recent High Court decision in An Post’s favour in a case dealing with disputed addresses.
A row over the regulator’s decision to fine An Post €12 million for failing to maintain quality standards in some of its services, also looks destined for courts, as the company wants to challenge the ruling.