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Issue #1600      July 3, 2013

Counter strike: Thousands of Post Office staff walk out

Thousands of staff at Britain’s Crown Post Offices went on strike last week in protest at privatisation, closures, threats to jobs and a damaging pay freeze.

The 24-hour strike by up to 4,000 Crown Post Office staff, backed by an 88 percent Yes vote, is their seventh in three months – and the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) says their struggle is gaining increasing public backing.

The union said that during strike action the week before more than 30 shops in Whitstable in Kent closed in support, and across the country tens of thousands of people have signed petitions against the closures.

Britain has 371 Crown Post Offices, which are directly owned and managed by Post Office Ltd. They are the larger offices, normally in town and city centres.

CWU describes them as the “powerhouse” of the Post Office network. The offices represent only 3 percent of the Post Office estate but handle 40 percent of its financial services and 20 percent of its customers.

The government plans to close or privatise 74 of the biggest Crown offices, threatening hundreds of jobs.

In addition staff have suffered a two-year pay freeze – while top bosses recently shared millions in bonuses. CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: “With the news that Post Office bosses shared £15.4 million in bonuses, their plans to close offices, cut jobs and refuse to agree a pay rise for Crown office staff is unbelievable.

“They’re lavishing bonuses at the top while slashing jobs, services and pay for frontline staff. It’s blatant fat-cat behaviour from a management which is out of touch with its workforce.

“Post Office staff, customers and communities are continuing to stand up for the local Crown post office services they value so highly. The support continues to be enormous. Bosses cannot keep their heads in the sand forever.

“We firmly believe this dispute can be resolved in a way that protects services and rewards staff for their ongoing dedication and service. We call again on the company to take this dispute seriously at the highest level.

“This [is] the seventh round of strike action demonstrating that it will not simply disappear. Key issues of services, jobs and pay are too big to be ignored.”

Mr Ward said the proposed closures would cost 1,500 jobs and accused Post Office bosses of using money intended for investment to fund redundancies instead.

The Post Office announced half-year profits of £61 million last September.

The action comes against a background of increasing industrial unrest and resistance to the coalition government.

In addition, tens of thousands of teachers took strike action in north-west England as civil servants mounted protests across the country in defence of their jobs.

Morning Star  

Next article – Stop PepsiCo’s brutal attack

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