The government announced last week that it was to close 2,500 post offices across Britain.
As well as opposing the closures, workers in these offices have begun an industrial action ballot over pay which could lead to them striking at the same time as their Royal Mail comrades.
It seems the government had already decided the future of these offices despite the sham “consultation period”.
This is a devastating blow for millions of people as post offices are a vital part of society.
Instead of spending taxpayers’ money on redundancy packages, the government should invest in maintaining the Post Office network.
In addition to the 2,500 closures Post Office Ltd has also announced plans to privatise 85 Crown Post Offices, with 70 of them going to WH Smith.
This will further impact on the demise of the Post office network.
Post offices will be replaced by retailers whose primary aim is to make a profit rather than provide a service.
The CWU union entered into the government’s consultation process in the spirit of maintaining a sustainable and viable post office network.
The CWU’s main recommendations to the consultation process were to:
- Enter into an extensive consultation process on the future of the network. In the interim, until a decision is made, there should be a moratorium on franchising of Crown Offices.
- Extend the social network payment (a subsidy) for a further period after 2008 for rural post offices, which should also include a further payment for the urban deprived network.
- Ensure the Post Office network is a shop front for government services.
- Commit to develop the public service element of Post Office Limited (POL), including a new post office bank account with greater banking flexibility.
In conjunction with this closure programme, POL has offered their employees a derisory pay offer which includes;
- Pay cuts through the withdrawal of Saturday premium payments.
- Pay freeze for the PO, DBM’s and RA grades for at least two years.
- Below inflation pay offer for the majority of the CSA grade.
The union has totally rejected this offer that would mean a pay cut for at least 80 percent of members.
The union will be balloting for industrial action on both pay and the future of the Crown Office network.
The CWU is organising members’ meetings across the country and it is vital that all members attend. Both the government and POL have let down our members on the future of the network.
All members must support the union and vote yes in the forthcoming ballot.