Wednesday 11 January 2017

Post Office To Cut More Than 420 jobs

Post Office

The Post Office is to close and franchise a further 37 of its flagship crown offices, with the loss of 300 staff, and cut 127 financial specialist roles, workers have been told.

The Communication Workers Union said that, on top of the 62 branches announced for closure and franchise in 2016, the job cuts brought more “misery” to Post Office workers and their customers.

The general secretary, Dave Ward, said: “The latest round of closures is further evidence that the Post Office is in crisis and that the board of the company, backed by the government, is simply pursuing a strategy of slash and burn.

“Today’s announcement comes less than three weeks after the closure of a major government consultation on the future of the Post Office and sticks two fingers up to everyone who took part in this.”

He said members of the public had sent 75,000 signed postcards to the government calling for an end to the closure and franchise programme: “The Post Office and the government have completely ignored their views.”

The union has staged strikes in protest at the closure of crown post offices – the larger branches usually sited on high streets. In one protest, outside the business department before Christmas, sacks full of postcards from the public were delivered supporting the union’s campaign.

Ward said: “While the government spent yesterday talking about building a shared society, today’s announcement pressing on with the destruction of yet another public service shows we are reaching the point where we will have little left to share.

“The CWU will not accept this and we will be stepping up our political and industrial campaign to fight for the future of the Post Office.”

The deputy general secretary, Terry Pullinger, said: “The Post Office network has been reduced by more than 50% over the past 30 years and continues to be run down. It requires a proper business plan for growth and investment, which is being ignored.

“Its IT platform is being held together with sticky tape and it continues to outsource and close its outlets, yet they dress it up as a success and honour its directors.

“A con is a con regardless of how it’s dressed up and the British public and our members are being conned on a grand scale into believing that a Post Office without modern new products and services and the right investment can survive.”

The Post Office said it would be seeking “partners” for 37 of its directly managed branches, in addition to 93 announced in the past calendar year, nearly half of which have now relocated into retail stores.

Roger Gale, the sales and trade marketing director, said: “We’re committed to maintaining the Post Office’s special place on the high street and the changes we are making underpin our continued commitment to give communities in every part of the country access to essential services.

“The Post Office’s network of more than 11,600 branches is easily the largest in the UK, with 17 million customer visits a week. The vast majority of these branches are run with partners, and in the locations announced today we believe this will also be a more sustainable approach for the long term.

“With consumer habits changing, and the high cost of maintaining premises in prime high street locations, franchising helps us to keep services where our customers want and need them.

“We will take time to identify the right partners over the coming months and all proposals will be subject to local consultation.

“Post Office has a strong record of supporting people through change and we will be keeping affected staff fully informed as we develop our plans.”

Brian Scott, a Unite officer, said it was “salami slicing of a much respected and valued national institution in pursuit of profit”, adding: “The public will suffer as services are continually and systematically eroded.

“This is another nail in the coffin of the Post Office and a move to online will make the crown office network superfluous to requirements. Customers who want to take up the services that the Post Office is offering will have to do it online or on the phone.

“This lack of the personal touch goes against the public purpose and ethos of the Post Office. It also paves the way for further franchising of the rapidly diminishing number of crown post offices, which currently number about 300.

“This will make it more difficult for the ordinary consumer, many of them who are elderly, to access quality services.”



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