The battle for the UK Post Office is on-going; with staff taking fresh strike action last Saturday in an effort to get bosses to stop plans to close or franchise 74 locations. Crown Offices, those in dispute, are directly owned by Post Office Ltd, and are planned to be franchised and placed within retailers such as WH Smith. Job losses of around 800 are predicted by the Communication Workers Union (CWU). While the Post Office insists staff will be transferred to a new employer or offered voluntary redundancy, there’s no doubt the current plan will result in job cuts.
Roger Gale, general manager of the Post Office’s Crown and WH Smith network, said, “It’s absolutely not a programme of closing post offices.”
“We want to retain post office services on the high street but we have to do it in a way that doesn’t lose tax-payers’ money.
“What we’re trying to do is get the Crown Network to a point where it breaks even. It currently loses £37m a year of tax-payers’ money and what we’re trying to do is to remove that loss.”
But Dave Ward, deputy general secretary of the CWU, said: “With the news Post Office bosses shared £15.4 million in bonuses, their plans to close offices, cut jobs and refuse to agree a pay rise for Crown office staff is unbelievable.
“Post Office staff, customers and communities are continuing to stand up for the local Crown post office services they value so highly. The support continues to be enormous. Bosses cannot keep their heads in the sand forever.
“We firmly believe this dispute can be resolved in a way that protects services and rewards staff for their on-going dedication and service. We call again on the company to take this dispute seriously at the highest level.”
Support from the general public and shop owners has been growing, and thousands have already signed a petition against the planned closures and franchise. But for staff, the two year plus pay freeze they’ve experienced, while bosses receive huge bonuses, is still a bone of contention. With calls for a 3.5% pay rise for 2012/13, and a further rise this financial year, staff hope to win a more equal pay despite the Post Office insisting it’s not possible whilst the company is making losses.
The strikes are the seventh round of action in the current dispute and will only affect the Crown branches.