Staff in the country’s network of 372 Crown post offices will take a thirteenth round of strike action on Wednesday 20 November for half a day. Staff working in admin and supply chain functions (supplying cash to post offices) will also take a first full day of strike action in a dispute over pay. The action is being coordinated with strike action by managers in Post Office supply chain represented by Unite. In addition, from Thursday 21 November Crown post office workers will boycott financial services sales for nine days, as the union steps up its action in the period leading up to Christmas.
The long-running Crown office dispute affects up to 4,000 staff and is over a pay freeze, plans to close and/or franchise 75 offices and cut up to 1,500 jobs. The admin and supply chain dispute involves up to 2,000 people and is in reaction to a pay freeze. CWU called off planned strike action set for 4 November in the hope that a breakthrough could be reached in talks, however no meaningful progress has been made.
Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “We called off strike action at the beginning of the month as an act of good faith. That has unfortunately lead nowhere and Post Office management still appear to have little urgency in wanting to resolve this dispute – meeting us only for half days and not engaging with the key issues. If this runs on until Christmas it will be entirely the company’s fault.
“Post Office management is out of touch with its staff and customers over plans to close Crown offices and cut staff. The company is unfairly imposing pay freezes on both Crown staff and now admin and supply chain workers while senior managers have enjoyed significant bonus payments. These double-standards cannot continue and we hope that this latest strike action will focus the minds of management to see sense.”
Unite officer for the Post Office, Brian Scott, said: "We have been working hard to try to secure a deal, but this has not yet been possible. We are therefore asking our 110 members in the supply chain part of the Post Office to take action on 20 November to emphasise to the employer that they need to get their skates on and resolve this dispute."
• Crown staff will walk out at 14:30 on Wednesday 20 November 2013
• Supply chain staff will take 24 hours strike action from 04:00 on Wednesday 20 November 2013
The Post Office wants to close and/or franchise 75 Crown offices, 20 per cent of the network, and cut up to 1,500 jobs. These main offices make up 3% of total post office network but handle 20 per cent of all customers and 40 per cent of all financial services sales making them the powerhouse of the network. Staff at Crown Post Offices have not had a pay rise since April 2011 while all other staff represented by CWU in the Post Office have had two pay rises totalling 6.75 per cent in this period. Last year head office managers shared a bonus pot of £15.4 million and chief executive Paul Vennells received £697,000 – an increase of 37 per cent on the previous year.
Strike action will affect up to 4,000 staff working in 372 Crown (main) post offices. Post Office staff voted by nine to one (88 per cent) in favour of strike action and have already taken strike action on twelve previous occasions: Easter Saturday, 19 and 29 April, 7 and 28 May, 20 June and 29 June, 17 and 29 July, 24 and 26/7 August and 30 September or 1 October. Staff have also taken five days of action short of strike comprising a sales ban on financial services. It will be the first day of strike action for staff in admin and supply chain roles.
The closure and franchising plans are meeting stiff opposition across the country with tens of thousands signing petitions, and public meetings unanimously rejecting the plans.
A full list of post offices involved in the dispute and those under threat of closure is available on the CWU website
For more information please contact: Sian Jones, CWU press officer, on 020 8971 7267, mobile: 0779 3314249 or Alex Flynn, Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or mobile 07967 665869
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.