Post office staff stage walkout over cuts

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Workers in the country’s biggest post offices staged a fresh strike over jobs, pay and branch closures yesterday, saying members of the public were supporting their campaign.

Members of the Communication Workers’ Union at hundreds of Crown offices walked out for the day, the fourth round of industrial action in recent weeks.

The union opposes plans to franchise 70 of the branches and close some others, saying hundreds of jobs would be affected.

The dispute also involves pay, with the CWU saying its members have not received a wage rise for over two years.

The Post Office says the Crown offices – the larger branches usually sited on high streets – are losing £40m a year and has accused the union of refusing to accept economic realities.

Managers said over 240 branches remained open despite the industrial action.

Kevin Gilliland, Network and Sales Director at the Post Office said: “We regret any inconvenience that may be caused to customers by this strike action. We are working hard to minimise inconvenience and over 240 of our 370 Crown branches remain open, while the remainder of our 11,800 branches are unaffected.

“Our plans are crucial to keeping Post Office branches on high streets across the UK and halting the Crown network’s £40m a year loss of public money. Every hour of strike action is causing disruption for our customers and costing our people money in the face of an offer of a cash payment of up to £1,400.”

The union said it believes the company is trying to meet Government targets by “drastic” cost-cutting.

Officials said members of the public signed petitions across the country yesterday in support of their local Crown office.

Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “This Government promised no programme of post office closures, but these plans would cut 20 per cent of the Crown network.”