THOUSANDS of postal workers are to vote on strike action in a row over post office closures, job cuts and pensions, their union said yesterday.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said about 3,500 members in Crown post offices, supply depots and administration sites across Britain will be balloted.
It is the first time workers from different parts of the business have been balloted together, with the result due on August 19.
The union said the ballot was in protest at plans for wholesale privatisation of the Crown network (branches directly managed by Post Office Ltd, which is government-owned), job losses and closure of the pension scheme, which will leave thousands worse off in retirement.
Since the start of the year there have been 2,000 job losses and 80 Crown offices gone: four set for closure, 60 privatised and 16 moving into another retailer.
More than half of the Post Office’s cash-handling operation is also set for closure.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “The Post Office as we know it is on the brink of extinction. It is clear that the board’s plan is one of closure, redundancy and cost-cutting on an epic scale which will permanently undermine this great British institution.
“We are repeating our call for the board to resign with immediate effect and be replaced with people who are actually interested in delivering jobs and services through this iconic brand.
“We will be highlighting our concerns for the Post Office with new Business Secretary Greg Clark, following up the delivery of our 20ft postcard to his office last week.
“The government’s response on funding has been wanting and misleading. Money has been spent on closing down offices and paying off staff instead of bringing new business into the network.
“The lack of imagination and ambition for this great British institution is staggering.”
He said staff were left with no choice but to ballot on strike action to defend jobs, pensions and services.
The Post Office said it was disappointed by the CWU’s decision to ballot for strike action and called for talks.