Third week of strikes could hit Post Office

Sudbury Post Office could be affected by a strike for the third week in a row as the dispute over pay and possible job losses rumbles on.

The East Street branch closed at 2.30pm last Friday as all nine staff and a manager supported the Communication Workers’ Union’s protest against plans to partner 70 main Post Office branches with other retailers and close six offices, which the union says could affect 800 jobs.

Monday’s strike, scheduled to take place from 1pm, was less well-supported as the Sudbury branch remained open, with posters warning customers to expect delays.

Tim Pavlin, CWU representative for the East of England, said: “Three normal staff decided not to take strike action.

“The branch suffered disruption but had some staff to keep it open.”

Mr Pavlin said: “We have announced that our next strike action will be on Tuesday, following the Bank Holiday.

“It will be a full day.” It is currently unknown whether Sudbury Post Office staff will take part in the strike.

He claimed the apparent wane in support from Sudbury staff was not mirrored across the country.

“We found that, as a whole, support for the strike action remained as solid as it was the first time on Easter Saturday,” he said.

The CWU is asking for a consolidated pay increase of 3.5 per cent for 2012/13 and further increases of 3.25 per cent for 2013/14, with the Post Office offering a series of cash payments totalling up to £3,400 by April 2015.

“There has been no further discussions or any offer of talks at all,” said Mr Pavlin.

“It is frustrating, I hope that we don’t have a protracted war of attrition with neither party prepared to move.”

Kevin Gilliland, Post Office network and sales director, denied Monday’s strike had impacted on customers.

“We are pleased to say that Sudbury Post Office maintained a service on Monday and customers were unaffected,” he said.

“However, the CWU’s call for further strike action is extremely disappointing. It can only cause further disruption to customers and will not change our plans to bring the crown office network, which is currently losing £40million of public money a year, back into profit.”

Mr Gilliland said the strikes only affect three per cent of the Post Office’s 11,800 branches and that more than 10,000 branches already operate successfully as franchises.

“The CWU demands for a consolidated pay increase would add to the Crown network losses, therefore our offer of cash payments is fair and affordable,” he said.

“We remain open to discussing how we can get the first of these payments into people’s pay packets as soon as possible with the CWU.”