Monday, 29 April 2013

Third Post Office strike on Monday

POST Office staff in the country’s network of 373 Crown Post Offices will take a third round of strike action on Monday April 29 in a dispute over closures, franchising, jobs and pay. Management continue to refuse to negotiate, despite their financial arguments being proved wrong.

Strike action will start at 1pm on Monday April 29 and will affect up to 4,000 staff working in 373 Crown (main) post offices. Post Office staff voted by nine to one (88%) in favour of strike action and have already taken strike action on Easter Saturday and April 19.

CWU is opposed to Post Office plans to close or franchise 76 Crown offices – 20% of the network –which would affect over 800 jobs. The union is seeking protection for jobs and services, and wants to secure a fair pay rise for staff who have had no rise since April 2011. CWU believes the Post Office is trying to meet government targets by drastic cost-cutting.

Andy Furey, CWU national official, said: 'The Post Office has admitted that it’s got its sums wrong on the cost of our pay claim. They embellished the figure by over £6 million – effectively doubling the cost of what we’ve asked. Despite admitting this they still stubbornly refuse to negotiate. The Post Office’s mistakes in relation to our pay claim calls into question the accuracy of other Post Office numbers – including the alleged size of the losses in the Crown network. This part of the network handles 20% of all Post Office business and delivers 40% of financial services sales, despite making up only 3% of the whole network. It really is the driver and heart of the network which is why we are so concerned about the closure and franchise plans.   We can help the Post Office find a positive way forward for the network, but they must be prepared to listen to the concerns of their staff who voted by nine to one to back strike action. Without negotiation this dispute will continue.'

Strike action on Easter Saturday and Friday April 19 was overwhelmingly supported by CWU members.
The pay numbers
A pay rise was due in April 2012 for Crown Post Office staff but is still outstanding. Other staff employed by the Post Office – in areas such as supply chain and administration – have received pay rises of 3.5% and 3.25% in this period (2012-13 and 2013-14) without strings attached. This is exactly the same as what CWU is seeking for Crown staff. Postmasters have also received a pay agreement totalling £11 million for one year. But the counter staff in Crown offices have had nothing since April 2011.

The Post Office claimed in internal communications to staff that the CWU pay claim would cost the company £12 million. In fact, the CWU’s claim for 3.5% and 3.25% would cost just over £5m. In a meeting with the company a fortnight ago, CWU negotiators challenged the figures and the Post Office subsequently admitted their figures were wrong and misleading and confirmed this in a communication to staff.
In February the Post Office announced its intention to close or franchise 76 Crown offices – 20 per cent of the remaining network. This has raised fears over job security for over 800 people working in those offices and uncertainty for the future of other Crown offices. If the closures go ahead, hundreds of staff would never see some of the money being dangled by the Post Office as a ‘pay offer’ because they would no longer work for the company. 

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