On Saturday 30th April around 15 pickets assembled outside St Johns Centre Crown Post Office in Leeds as Communication Workers Union (CWU) members took strike action over plans to close or franchise 76 Crown Post Offices across the country (including Crossgates Crown Post Office in Leeds) as well as opposing a pay freeze that has been ongoing since 2011.
Leeds Socialist Party reporters
As CWU rep, Richard, explained to us the pay deal they are negotiating was due last April and post office management dragged their feet finally offering an unconsolidated £1000 lump sum with strings attacking terms and conditions, which was to last for 3 years – an insulting offer which has been rejected. One of these terms was acceptance of the plans to close or turn into franchises 76 post offices, 20% of the crown Post Office network, up and down the country.
In some aspects this is a continuation of plans in the direction of privatising postal services. In 1990, the Post Office’s banking arm, Girobank was privatised, and since then aspects of Post Office and Royal Mail work (both entities were officially seperated in 2012) have been opened up to competition, which has undermined the service, particularly where companies have taken bulk contract work but rely on Royal Mail to take post ‘the final mile’, effectively subsidising private operators.
Thousands of post offices have closed over the last few years, and a round of franchising 5-6 years ago saw 70 transferred to WH Smiths, whilst other Crown Post Offices were closed. According to a survey last year by Customer Focus, waiting times are longer in these WH Smiths franchised Crown Post Offices.
As elsewhere in the public sector, privatisation means a lower qaulity of service for customers, driving down of terms and conditions for staff and huge profits for their new owners at our expense. The postal service should be re-integrated, and run as democratically controlled public service for the benefit of society with the profiteers kicked out now!