Post Office gambles away network, says CWU
9th March 2012
For immediate release
Post Office gambles away network, says CWU
Responding to the Post Office announcement of wholesale change
to the network today (Friday) the Communication Workers Union warns
that the changes could lead to the exclusion of many areas from
access to post office services and bankruptcy for postmasters
leading to closures. The postal union also points out that the
£1.34 billion of funding was published by BIS in 2010, is not
new funding and is less than the £1.7bn allocated in 2006.
The 'Locals' models in particular poses a grave danger
to the network, the union warns. It has been sharply criticised by
Consumer Focus which found that 44% of customers thought the range
of services available was very poor or average.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said: "The Post Office is taking a major gamble with our postal service and the livelihoods of postmasters with today's announcement - which is deeply one-sided and full of spin. The voice of customers and postmasters is missing and they will bear the brunt of failures in the post office network.
"There are serious flaws with the downgraded
'Locals' model which deny services to customers - not even
the ability to post parcels in many cases - while only making them
available at tills in convenience stores and petrol stations.
"There comes a point at which it's no longer a Post
Office. That's the reality for customers. To access full
services people will have to travel to a Crown or main Post Office.
"For postmasters it's even worse. These new models take
away their guaranteed pay and downgrade the skills and experience
they bring to providing a range of Post Office services. We're
listening closely to our members and they have serious concerns for
their customers and wonder whether they will have a future.
"This is a major gamble with our cherished post office
network, people's livelihoods and the public's ability to
access local services. We're calling for a moratorium rather
than risk losing our post offices forever."
Helen Baker, a postmaster from Eastbourne said:
"Post Office locals will dilute the value of the network,
confuse the customer, and drive business away as a result. I have
already seen the effects in one PO Local near my office where year
on year the income is reducing steadily. It is inconceivable to
expect pensioners and vulnerable people to queue alongside those
wishing to buy a packet of fags and have nowhere
"private" to sort their bills and pensions. PO Locals
will work in a small number of outlets, but in the majority will
not. It is imperative that this ill-thought out plan is halted and
a review of pilots is thorough before moving ahead."
An Early Day Motion - EDM 2841 - has been
laid down in Parliament this week raising concerns about the Post
Office Locals model.
Flaws in the Post Office announcement include:
- The £1.34 billion was published in the BIS report 'Securing the Post Office Network in the Digital Age' in November 2010. £180m of this was for 2011-12 and has already been spent.
- £1.34 billion for four years is £360 million less than the last Labour government funding package which was £1.7 billion in 2006.
- Government services provided through the Post Office has fallen from £576 million in 2004/5 to £167m in 2009/10 (according to BIS, as above).
- Research quoted by the Post Office about customer satisfaction with the Locals model was based on feedback from areas which mostly had previously had no Post Office at all or where one which had been closed for a significant period. No independent research backs this up.
- Local but limited? by Consumer Focus published in March 2011 raises serious concerns about the Locals model.
On longer opening hours:
Longer hours mean greater costs and risk to the operator. While
it may be welcome to some customers, where is the evidence that the
public are dissatisfied with the current opening hours of the PO
Network? There is a genuine concern that the same number of
customers will simply spread their use of post offices over longer
hours, at greater cost to postmasters.
For more information please contact:
Sian Jones, Press Officer, tel: 020 8971 7267, mobile: 0779 3314249, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Helen Oswald Press Officer, tel: mobile: 07912 574409 e-mail email@example.com
Kevin Slocombe, Head of Communications, mobile: 07714504413, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org