Post office workers have voted to take strike action over 5 days next week including christmas eve. The Communication Workers Union which represents the staff of the company has stated that after a long running debate on pensions and branch closures that enough is enough, and have called a strike for 5 days beginning on the 19th of December.
The Post Office has been undergoing a period of restructuring, this includes moving more branches into retail branches of WHSmith. The company has stated its disappointment at the decision to walk out, as it was due to restart talks with the Union. Though the walkout will only affect Crown Post Offices, which tend to be much larger town centre branches.
The big issues include the closing of the final salary pension scheme, this removal of such a scheme has been common in the private sector, but as traditionally the Post Office has been part of the government it hasn’t been an issue. But privatisation of the Post Office is believed to be on the horizon, and it seems the company is structuring itself for a future free of government control. Also part of this restructuring are branch closures. As the Post Office seeks to become leaner and move more of its offices into retail spaces. Extending their partnership with the retailer WH Smith. This will undoubtedly remove jobs from the company, and is a key concern for the Union.
Dave Ward general secretary of the union said that his members were “forced into fighting to save their jobs and this great institution from terminal decline”. He also stated the membership wanted a pause in the privatisation of the company. Though with the conservative government ever keener on reducing its liability this seems extremely unlikely. It also became significantly more likely once the company was split from the Royal Mail, before the sell off of that public institution. Over several years the Post Office has significantly reduced the affected part of the company the Crown Post Office, with a preference for franchising seen as reducing liability whilst improving profitability.
The senior management of the Post Office have stated that even with the strikes 97% of the branch network will not be involved in the action due to the large number of franchises that are operated as Post Office branches. They insist that it will be business as usual in the vast majority of its network.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.