Belfast Telegraph

Unions clash with management over impact of Post Office strike

The two sides in a dispute at the Post Office have clashed over the impact of a strike, with management saying most of the network was operating but unions reporting solid support.

Members of the Communication Workers Union and Unite staged a 24-hour walkout in protest at job losses, franchising of Crown offices and the closure of a final salary pension scheme.

Picket lines were mounted outside Post Offices and unions have not ruled out further industrial action.

The Post Office said it was "business as usual" in all but a handful of branches in its 11,600 strong network.

Kevin Gilliland, Post Office network and sales djirector, said: "We want to reassure people that over 99% of our network is operating its usual Saturday schedule today.

"Of the 279 branches where action was called, 190 are open for business, in addition to many thousands more around the country. Customers can visit our website for help planning visits today.

"The Post Office plays an important role in communities all over the UK, and has done for centuries.

"We want to safeguard that level of service, and the changes we are making support our commitment to keeping Post Office services widely available into the future.

"Over the last four years, nearly 7,000 post offices have been modernised, adding more than 200,000 extra opening hours each week, and we are now the largest UK retailer open on a Sunday.

"We want the unions to join us in talks to discuss our strategy and find a constructive way forward. Their members work very hard to give our customers the best possible service in the run up to Christmas, and this action can only cause concern."

CWU General Secretary Dave Ward said: "The Post Office is now at crisis point - it needs a new strategy as a matter of urgency. No-one is thinking of the future.

"This isn't good for workers, it isn't good for customers and it isn't good for the future of the business. The CWU will not simply stand by and see another British Industry destroyed.

"We have a simple demand - that the Government pauses the cuts and brings stakeholders together for a structured period of talks to develop a plan that is about more than managing the decline of the service - our members and the public deserve nothing less."