UK Post Office staff are again going on strike again this afternoon, protesting a pay freeze and plans to outsource 76 branches to retail partners.
As with Easter Saturday’s industrial action, the walkouts are expected to affect Crown post offices – the 373 outlets owned and operated by Post Office Ltd itself, which tend to be large outlets.
Post Office Ltd insisted last night that “at least 97%” of the UK network would be operating as normal.
The Communication Workers Union, which represents 4,000 Crown post office staff, said yesterday that it has analysed the latest modernisation plans for Post Office Ltd, finding that since September, plans have been changed to rely more heavily on cost-cutting than generating new income to balance the books.
The union says it is not only looking to protect jobs with the strike action, it is concerned about cuts to Post Office services and the impact that will have on future business in a strategy based on “managing decline” rather than looking for growth.
It suggested outsourcing the Crown post office branches would mean retail partners could walk away from running the outlets at any time in the future.
The Crown post office network is currently losing more than £40m a year, but the CWU said that compared to transformation plans seen last autumn, Post Office Ltd is now intending to plug only 20% of the gap with new income, rather than 45%.
The union said Post Office Ltd’s plans for franchising had been stepped up by £2m to £8m compared to last September.
The CWU suggested that Post Office Ltd was looking to shed 1,200 jobs in its plan, and that extra money promised to staff would be tied to certain cost-cutting targets being met, stating that “many staff are likely to never receive the money on offer”.
Billy Hayes, the CWU general secretary, said yesterday: “The Post Office can talk about ‘transformation’ and ‘sustainability’ all it likes but the reality is that these are euphemisms for closing offices, drastically altering the make-up of the post office network and handing the running of services over to corporations which are built around other income streams and could walk away from post office services.”
“Critical modernisation plans”
Speaking to Post&Parcel, Post Office Ltd did not explain the changes to its transformation plan the union said had been brought in since September, bringing in a heavier reliance on cost-cutting.
The company issued a statement accusing the CWU of refusing to recognise the challenges being faced by the loss-making Crown post office network.
Kevin Gilliland, the Post Office network and sales director, said: “The CWU is failing to accept the need to address the current loss of £40 million a year of public money across our Crown network. Through our critical modernisation plans we intend to turn this part of our business around and keep Post Office branches on high streets across the UK.”
Gilliland said £70m is being invested in 300 Crown branches as 70 outlets are franchised out to retail partners.
“These branches are not closing,” he insisted. “Any move to a retailer’s premises would offer access to the same range of Post Office products and high levels of customer service in a new modern branch.”
The Post Office network and sales director added that the company’s pay offer for staff was “extremely fair”. “The CWU’s unrealistic demands are delaying our people from receiving the first payment of £1,400, which is ready to be paid into their pay pockets,” he said.
Source: Post&Parcel/CWU/Post Office Ltd
Tags: modernisation, Post Office Ltd, post offices, Strike, UK
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