A ballot will take place to consider a deal struck with An Post by the Irish Postmasters' Union on the future of the post office network.

Postmasters met today in Tullamore, Co Offaly, to discuss details of a deal struck with An Post by the Irish Postmasters' Union (IPU) on the future of the post office network.

A spokesperson for the IPU confirmed ballots will be posted this week and members have until 11 May to complete their response.

Earlier this week, An Post reported an operating profit of €8.4m for last year, representing a significant turnaround from a loss of €12.4m in 2016.

According to a report in the Irish Times, up to 2,000 jobs could have to be cut at An Post over the next four years as the organisation seeks to modernise.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week, An Post Chief Executive David McRedmond said he expects this figure to be "considerably less" than the 2,000 suggested.

However, Mr McRedmond added the company has been through a huge turnaround and always needs to look for efficiencies.

He said around 330 people left the company in the past year and that An Post will work with the unions, including the TEEU, in relation to any staff changes.

"We can only really plan 12 months ahead," he said.

On the deal agreed with the Irish Postmasters' Union to modernise the country's post office network, Mr McRedmond said it has been years in the making and has been mediated over the past three months by the head of An Post's new retail unit, Debbie Byrne.

He said it involves a €50m investment in the network as well as a "minimum guarantee of coverage" for customers.

An Post has committed to having a post office for every community of more than 500 people and ensuring 95% of the population is within 15km of a post office (3km in urban areas).

To achieve this, up to 20 new post offices will be opened around the country.

The An Post CEO also said he would like to see post offices being able to facilitate Government and local authority services, such as paying motor tax and ID applications.

An Post's 'New vision' report on the modernisation of the post office network states that less than one third of post offices are viable.

Mr McRedmond said he expects to be able to have a network that is fully viable and "that's why we had to get this deal done".

He reiterated a promise that there will be no compulsory closures as part of the plan.

"We realise postmasters have had a tough time ... some of them want to retire, we don't know how many," he said.