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Unions weigh in on postcodes

The An Post (National Post Company) group of unions have come out with a report today which is strongly in favour of introducing a postcode system in Ireland. I happened to be at the press conference to launch the report today. It contains some interesting information about the company’s situation.

Basically, the unions are very concerned about the state of An Post, and the fact that the chief executive has warned that the post is basically a declining business. The unions fundamentally disagree with this position, and are hopeful that initiatives such as postcodes and increased use of e-commerce will stimulate mail volumes and lead to growth. The unions also believe that the company has an important social function, something which the management does not accept.

The report has said that there are serious problems with the standard of service provided by An Post, and that this is undermining confidence among users, resulting in lower volumes.

An interesting quotation about An Post’s investment in automated sorting equipment:

An Post spent ?100 million on new sorting technology in 2002. This has not realised the productivity gains and costs savings hoped for and serves to illustrate the point that buying machines does not amount to technology
adoption. The effects of technology change depend on the active cooperation of people. Reaping the benefits of new technologies in organisational changes requires the active engagement of staff and their representatives.

This is in marked contrast to the Communication Workers’ Union’s position at a Dail Committee in February 2003:

The technology being used at present can read almost any address. It has a unique address system that would not be provided by codes. The new system is much better than a system of codes in many respects.

As you can see every day brings excitement, thrills and spills in the world of postal infrastructure.

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  1. E-Commerce! Hah! ‘scuse me but when I’m out and my amazon box ends up in the An Post warehouse in the out-of-town industrial estate and I have to take time of work to get it, *in one week*, or they send it back, then somehow I don’t think e-commerce (woohoo, super-duper-highway-etc.), is going to save An Post.

    Get with the program and make it easy for people to collect their online purchases, by, oh, *leaving* them in the local post office.
    Might create a few jobs too…

    Right, glad I got that off my chest 🙂

  2. I don’t care whether or not we get postcodes. I only care about their format. Thus, for those interested, here is a self-explanatory letter that Madam Editor chose not to publish in the Irish Times earlier this month …


    To those promoting and designing the new postcodes may I put a heartfelt plea on behalf of fellow touch-typists. Not just those of today, but for the day that in our computerised world, every primary school will teach its charges to touch-type. Reading, writing, arithmetic and touch-typing are the four basic survival skills everyone will acquire.

    For ease and rapidity of typing, postcodes should be all numbers or all letters, but never never a mixture. The UK and Canada have the worst postcodes of all where numbers are combined with capital letters, back and forth. Jumping between numberpad, the shiftlock key and letters is an almost impossible task for even the most digitally dextrous. God knows how many man-hours are wasted typing such postcodes.

    Let?s learn from the mistakes of other jurisidictions.

    Yours etc

    Tony Allwright

    PS – Antoine, didn’t you write about this subject a couple of years ago?