At our October all members’ meeting the following Motion was agreed unanimously
This CLP notes with concern that on 11 October 2018 it was announced that 74 crown post offices across the UK, including Kendal’s, will be franchised to W H Smith. Taken together, successive franchise announcements mean the loss of 60% of the crown office network since 2013. This is a privatisation by stealth, which has occurred since the separation of the Post Office and Royal Mail 5 years ago.
These privatisations are financed using millions of pounds of public money, despite the fact that the public has never endorsed the closures, indeed they have only ever protested against them. In 2014/15 alone, £13 million of public money was used to pay compensation to get rid of post office staff, and the CWU estimates the staff compensation cost of the latest privatisation will be at least £30 million, affecting as it does, 800 staff.
Reports by Consumer Focus (2012) and Citizens Advice (2016) have identified issues with the franchising of post offices to W H Smith including poor accessibility for people with mobility impairments, longer queuing times, and inferior service and advice on products
Franchising means the loss of jobs with good terms and conditions as W H Smith replaces experienced Post Office staff with new employees in typically minimum wage part time roles. This is clearly bad for jobs in the local area and the Post Office workers, many of whom are CWU members
The closure of our Crown post offices and relocation to a W H Smith, also means the loss of prime high street stores and this contributes to the demise of our town centres. No explanation has been given as to why the profit making Crown post offices are being handed to a failing retailer with an uncertain future, and what will happen to these services if W H Smith folds.
All Crown post offices are under threat of closure and/or franchising in future, and if the latest round of privatisations are allowed to go ahead, it could prove the tipping point for the viability of the entire post office network.
This CLP believes that:
Our post offices are a key asset for the community and the expertise and experience of staff there is invaluable
The relentless franchising and closure programme of the profit making Crown post Offices, points to a lack of vision rather than the plan for growth and innovation that is needed.
Government should therefore halt these closures and bring together stakeholders, including the CWU, and industry experts to develop a new strategy that safeguards the future of the Post office.
This CLP therefore resolves to:
Campaign against any closures and/or franchising, including street stall to raise the profile of the issue with local residents
Take a solidarity photo at this meeting to be shared on social media using @cwunews, and
Ask our MP and Councillors to make statements in support of the post office network, denouncing the managed decline of the post office, and in support of CWU members in the Post Office who are currently being subjected to huge stress and uncertainty in the face of yet another round of ill-conceived and destructive franchising