We shall not bend, union tells An Post


ANYONE buying a new house should check the height of the letter box, otherwise they may not get post if the Communications Workers' Union has its way.

The CVL has told An Post that its members are no longer delivering mail to new houses with letter boxes near the ground, because of the increased risk of back injury to their members. The ban comes into immediate effect.

The union and An Post have been involved in a campaign to persuade builders to install letter boxes at hip height, or higher, to make mail deliveries easier. But the patience of the CVL has begun to wear thin.

It is now instructing members to stop delivering letters to the offending houses unless An Post issues them with a letter specifically instructing them to do so. The company is reluctant to issue letters because it is afraid it might increase its own liability to industrial injury claims. A number of CWU members are understood to have initiated litigation against An Post over such problems.

Mr Stephen Hughes of the CWU says his members often start work with sacks weighing 45 lb, and having to bend down almost to ground level to deliver letters and parcels at 300 or 400 houses at a time is increasing the risk of back injury.

"We accept we can't do very much about existing houses," he says. "However, we have begun approaching builders and asking them to ensure that letter boxes on new houses are at hip level, or higher."

Some builders were co operating, Mr Hughes said, "about others are telling us to get lost". While the union is not taking the advice of the more unco operative builders literally, it is advising members to deliver mail for such estates at the site office.

The number of households affected is quite small, Mr Hughes says. The union is also lobbying the Department of the Environment on the issue. It wants it to introduce regulations that will make it mandatory to raise the level of letter boxes in new doors.

A spokesman for An Post said they are as frustrated as the union at the attitude of some builders and would support new building regulations if door manufacturers would not see sense.