Monday 17/06/2019 - 03:38 am

Post Office says it will mostly be business as usual despite strike

2016.12.13 05:52

 The Post Office has said next week’s strike will have minimal impact on Christmas mail, a claim disputed by the postal workers’ unions.

The government-backed post office operator said less than 3% of its outlets would be affected by five days of action expected to start from 19 December. But the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which is protesting over pay, pension and job cuts, said more than a fifth of parcels were handled by the 300 crown post offices where its members work.
A spokesman for the union, which acts for about 4,000 postal workers, accused the Post Office of “giving the public a false sense of security”.
He said that the crown offices, which are run directly by Post Office employees involved in the strike, were based in key cities, such as Manchester, London and Birmingham, and were far larger than the thousands of local offices run by independent business people.
But Kevin Gilliland, the network and sales director for the Post Office, said: “It will be business as usual in almost all of our network, with over 50,000 Post Office people on hand to support customers as they make their preparations for Christmas.”
He said the Post Office was extremely disappointed that the CWU preferred to call for strike action, despite the company’s pledge to return to talks on Wednesday.
Royal Mail, which handles parcel and letter deliveries and is now a private company after it was split off from the Post Office several years ago, said it expected the action to have little or no effect on the services it provides its customers.
But the CWU disagreed, saying: “The Royal Mail has got to have parcels and if you can’t go to your local Post Office to drop them off then they won’t be there to deliver.”
However, it is possible that this round of strikes by the CWU, which has been embroiled in the dispute with the Post Office for more than a year, will not have as much impact as previous action.
Unlike a series of strikes earlier this year, Unite, the union which acts for 700 Post Office managers, is not taking part this time.
Unite’s officer for the Post Office, Brian Scott, said: “We are due to meet with the company on 22 December, at a senior level, and so we feel it not appropriate to take further action in advance of that. These discussions are part of our efforts to find a solution to the dispute.”
But he added: “This does not undermine our support for the CWU campaign to get an impetus for a refreshed Post Office that will make it sustainable, including the call for a PostBank. This debate should include government.”
The strike action comes after the Post Office confirmed plans to transfer more than 60 of its largest outlets to the private sector. Along with other cost-cutting proposals, the closures will lead to the loss of about 2,000 of its 6,600-strong workforce in crown branches, back office and cash handling.
About half the Post Office’stotal workforce is also being forced to shift from a final salary pension scheme to a defined contribution scheme, which unions say could cut retirement benefits by 30% or more in some cases.
The CWU said its general secretary, Dave Ward, had written to the Post Office chief executive, Paula Vennells, saying that strike action would be called off if the service pledged to pause its programme of closing crown post offices and committed to serious discussions about the union’s concerns.
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