In an unprecedented move, the CWU is set to ballot 3,500 members across Crown post offices, supply chain depots and admin sites for strike action. General secretary Dave Ward has warned: â€œthe Post Office as we know it is on the brink of extinction.â€
The union served notice to Post Office Ltd yesterday (Monday 25 July) for the ballot which will run from 1 August with the result due on 19 August. The ballot is in reaction to the companyâ€™s plans for wholesale privatisation of the crown network and widespread job losses â€“ with 80 Crown post offices announced for closure already this year and up to 2,000 job losses planned across the business. The ballot also covers the companyâ€™s decision to close the defined benefit pension scheme.
The planned closures will decimate the already reduced crown post office network, leaving barely 230 offices across the country. Dave Ward warned: â€œIt is clear that the Post Office boardâ€™s plan is one of closure, redundancy and cost cutting on an epic scale which will permanently undermine this great British institution. We are repeating our call for the board to resign with immediate effect and be replaced with people who are actually interested in delivering jobs and services through this iconic brand.â€
Unresolved issues leading to the strike ballot include:
- Significant job losses across the whole business (now totalling 2,000 since the beginning of the year) â€“ in Crown post offices, Supply Chain and Admin. This will lead to compulsory redundancies;
- The loss of 80 Crown post offices with four set for closure; 60 for privatisation (franchise) and a further 16 moving into another retailer under a â€˜hostingâ€™ arrangement;
- The closure of the defined benefit (DB) pension scheme which will leave thousands of staff worse off in retirement (proposed to be closed from March 2017 affecting 3,600 people);
- The closure of over half of the Post Office cash handling operation, whilst exiting the external market (announced April 2016).
Last week the CWU took a 20 foot postcard around Scotland, Wales and England collecting thousands of signatures against post offices closures. On Friday it was delivered to the offices of new business secretary Greg Clark.
Dave Ward continued: â€œThe governmentâ€™s response on funding has been wanting and misleading â€“ money has been spent on closing down offices and paying off staff instead of bringing new business into the network. The lack of imagination and ambition for this great British institution is staggering.
â€œWe are left with no choice but to take strike action to defend the jobs and pensions of our members and the services they provide.â€
The last strike action by crown post office staff was in December 2013 and the last strike action by supply chain workers was in December 2014.