Post Office

Thousands of Post Office workers will get the chance to enjoy an extended Easter Break, because instead of having to come in on Easter Saturday they have decided to strike.

The Communication Workers Union says that staff are protesting against shop closures, jobs and pay.


The result of the strike will be that from next Thursday until the following Tuesday, the 373 Crown Post Offices will be closed - these are the ones run directly by the Post Office rather than through franchises, and make up around 3% of the Post Office network.

Why?

The dispute has erupted over plans to close 76 of the Crown Offices - and the outlook for the 800 people employed in them. The problem the Post Office faces is that these offices are losing a small fortune - around £40 million a year - so they want to replace them with franchises in other shops.

Andy Furey, CWU assistant secretary with responsibility for Post Office members, said: "We want them to stop their flawed plans and instead recognise the immense value to customers of the Crown office network and its staff. If the Post Office continues to refuse to negotiate, this strike will be the first of many."

Kevin Gilliland, Network and Sales Director at the Post Office said: "The CWU is ignoring the harsh commercial realities being faced by the Post Office and other retailers across the UK. Crown branches are currently losing £40 million per year and this is being subsidised by public money. This cannot continue."

Pay

The union is also protesting against pay, which they point out has not been increased since April 2011. They highlight that other Post Office staff received a pay rise in April 2012, but not Crown Post Office employees.

The Post Office has retaliated by pointing out that a pay freeze is in place across the business - and that the increases they are talking about were negotiated for supply chain and admin staff before the freeze.

It also added that it intended to make payments to staff as part of the move to franchises - as each stage of the transition was completed. It said that if the network can be brought to break-even by April 2015 there would be pay rises too.

What it means for you

Furey added: "The strike on Easter Saturday will be a celebration and defence of Post Office services, especially in the towns which face losing their Crown office. " It's certainly one way to celebrate a service - by suspending it.

The good news is that only 3% of Post Offices are affected, so there should be one open within a reasonable distance.

There is also a chance that the strike will not go ahead. The union said it: "remains open to meet the Post Office if genuine and meaningful negotiations can be held".