Strike set to close Sudbury Post Office

Sudbury Post Office is likely to close early tomorrow (Friday) as union members protest against branch closures and pay.

The branch in East Street has displayed posters apologising to customers and warning that: “This branch may be closed on Friday afternoon due to industrial action by members of the Communication Workers’ Union.”

Up to 4,000 staff from 373 offices across the country will be involved in the half-day of strike action, which will see main offices close for the day from 2.30pm.

Tim Pavlin, CWU representative for the East of England, said the eight staff and one manager at Sudbury Post Office were all CWU members.

“I am very hopeful that the members will follow the union’s instruction and support the action,” he said.

A picket line demonstration has not been planned for Sudbury and franchise branches in the area will not be affected.

CWU members are protesting against Post Office plans to partner 70 branches with other retailers and close six offices, which the union says could affect 800 jobs, as well as calling for a “fair” pay rise.

Mr Pavlin said: “We are trying to cause maximum disruption for the business but the minimum inconvenience for the public, which is why we are doing a half-day strike.”

Sudbury Post Office staff supported a half-day strike on Easter Saturday in protest at the same issues.

Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “Post Office management’s behaviour is astonishing. They appear to have no regard for their office staff who voted by nine to one to reject the company’s pay offer which is linked to the loss of 76 offices.

“Their flawed plans to close or franchise 76 offices are meeting robust opposition in communities across the country and our members remain determined to secure a fair deal on job security and pay.”

Kevin Gilliland, network and sales director at the Post Office, said: “We want to keep Post Office branches on high streets across the UK. We are investing £70 million in 300 branches and are proposing to partner 70 branches with suitable retailers. These branches are not closing.

“Any move to a retailer’s premises would offer access to the same range of Post Office products and high levels of customer service in a new modern branch.”

A spokeswoman for the Post Office said its pay offer remains unchanged and that the CWU is making unrealistic demands for a consolidated pay increase of 3.5 per cent for 2012/13 and further increases of 3.25 per cent for 2013/14.

The Post Office is offering a series of cash payments totalling up to £3,400.

See next week’s Free Press for the full story and reaction.