Post Office ‘modernisation’ means 4,000 postmasters face compulsory redundancy
27th November 2013
Responding to the government statement on funding for Post Office modernisation today (Wednesday) the Communication Workers Union explains that the reality behind the spin is that up to 4,000 postmasters will face compulsory redundancy as a result of being forced to take a cut in pay and conditions or lose their jobs.
The Network Transformation programme has been running for two years on a voluntary basis, but take up by postmasters of the new style operating Post Office models (‘Mains’ and ‘Locals’) has been poor, caused in the main by a one-sided contract and low remuneration rates. These contracts strip the guaranteed income of around £10,000 a year and replace it with commission-based payments. The new style Post Offices that have converted and are open are showing signs of instability, and they could collapse economically. The true picture is that the programme has failed in its intention.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: “Rather than admit defeat the Government intends to railroad these new models through by using compulsory measures and by pumping more taxpayers’ money into the programme. We could see mass closures of post offices as a result of this rash decision to press ahead with potentially unviable models.”
The Post Office will be writing to around 4,000 postmasters telling them their Post Office branch does not fit in with their future plans. They will be put on notice that their Post Office will be shut down and the service transferred into a neighbouring retailer, typically a supermarket. These will only offer the Post Office ‘Local’ service, which can only offer limited services with transactions only being performed at the supermarket check-out. There will be no dedicated serving area or staff for Post Office customers to access.
If the Post Office is unable to find a neighbouring retailer to take on one of the new models, the existing Post Office branch continues to stay open, but will be left to wither on the vine and it is unlikely to be replaced once the postmaster resigns or retires.
Billy Hayes continued: “The Government can no longer deny that this is not a closure programme.
“Thousands of long serving and very experienced postmasters and their staff will be put on the scrap heap, and the public will lose forever the dedicated and professional Sub Post Office service, that has stood the test of time.
“CWU is calling for the Post Office and the Government to retain the voluntary aspect of the Transformation Programme and to fix the problems that stand in the way of existing postmasters in fully engaging with the programme. We cannot afford to throw away all this experience and dedication. It is the postmaster and their staff that the public identify with and trust. This relationship has made the Post Office brand one of the most trusted in the UK. These proposals are set to tarnish that brand and will betray the trust the British public has in the Post Office.”
The CWU represents postmasters right across the UK and we are currently in the process of balloting our postmaster members to gather their opinion of the proposals.