Fresh strikes to hit post offices
Workers in hundreds of Crown Post Offices are to stage two fresh strikes in a long-running row over closures, jobs and pay.
Members of the Communication Workers Union in hundreds of branches will walk out for half a day on June 20 and all day on Saturday June 29.
The union has held five strikes since Easter in protest at plans to close or franchise 76 of the Crown offices - the larger branches usually sited on high streets. Talks between the two sides have failed to break the deadlock, and the union called for senior Post Office executives to get involved in attempts to reach a deal.
CWU officials said they believed the Post Office is preparing to announce a £94 million profit, "smashing" its target by £10 million which the union predicted will mean large bonuses for senior executives.
Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: "This dispute can't be resolved while the chief executive Paula Vennells remains aloof and absent from talks. We've had informal talks this week which allowed a good exchange of views and discussion on various options, but there's no change, no new offers and no movement from the Post Office. We will be writing to the chairman of the board, Alice Perkins, regarding the lack of engagement from the chief executive on this serious and longstanding dispute.
"We will also be holding a parliamentary event to galvanise the already significant political support we have. We will highlight that the Post Office plans are a closure programme by stealth which will drastically affect the network and the services which communities rely on. It's time that Paula Vennells got her hands dirty and engaged with this dispute which affects the post office network's biggest branches."
The union said tens of thousands of people across the country had signed petitions against the Post Office's plans. Staff at the 373 Crown Post Offices have not had a pay rise since April 2011, said the union.
The Post Office has said that the Crown network was losing millions of pounds a year and has stressed that only a few would close under the proposals, with most of the 76 being franchised to other companies.
Kevin Gilliland, network and sales director at the Post Office, said: "We are disappointed at the CWU's decision to call further strike action. This can only cause disruption to customers and cost our people money. We must continue with our plans to turnaround the Crown network to ensure we keep these branches on high streets and in city centres across the UK. We remain open to discussions with the CWU on pay options which do not add to the current loss of public money."
The Post Office said it was transforming its Crown network to halt losses and keep branches on high streets across the UK. A total of 70 branches will be partnered with retailers and £70 million invested to modernise around 300 Crown offices, said the company.