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Monday 31st
posted by Morning Star in Britain

Second walkout over sell-offs, closures and pensions

by Steve Sweeney

POST OFFICE staff are set for a nationwide walkout today in a second 24-hour national stoppage over job losses, pension cuts and privatisation.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward warned that the future of the service is at risk, saying: “The stakes have never been higher” as it reaches “crisis point.”

Striking workers will gather at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in London at 10.30am before heading off for a Halloween-themed tour of the city. They will take their message to the doorstep of Post Office headquarters with a rally at noon.

Up to 3,500 CWU members will be joined by hundreds of Post Office managers belonging to Unite on picket lines across the country as the long-running dispute continues. “Around 2,000 jobs are believed to be at risk on top of plans for “mean-spirited” pension cuts and privatisation of the flagship crown post office network.

Post Office management has been accused of destroying the industry, with unions calling it “little more than a glorified closure programme.” The CWU says that hard-working staff are infuriated over bosses’ stubbornness in refusing to change course.

Over 100 post offices have already closed and a further 60 are set to follow.

Unite has slammed the failure of Post Office bosses to hold discussions over pensions as “pig-headed,” while CWU has demanded that the government pause cuts and enter talks to develop a strategy that secures the future of the service.

Mr Ward has called for the Post Office to become part of a “people’s bank” providing ethical services to the public.

In an attempt to undermine the strike, Post Office bosses have reportedly offered staff up to £3,000 in “additional payments” to voluntary redundancy packages if they cross picket lines, CWU reported.

The union has accused the management of victimising union reps, claiming that they are being targeted for compulsory redundancies, which the CWU says is “totally unacceptable.”

Mr 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. CWU will not simply stand by and see another British industry destroyed.

“We have a simple demand — that the government pause the cuts and bring 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.”

Unite officer for the Post Office Brian Scott warned that without talks more strikes could follow. “We cannot just stand by and see the retirement incomes of our members being eroded by thousands of pounds and we are calling on the Post Office to reverse its decision to close the pension scheme,” he said.