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Labour warning over relentless austerity as second post office strike begins

31 Oct 2016, 16:16 ... ut-begins/

Post office staff have embarked on a 24-hour strike in protest at job losses, pension changes and branch closures.

Around 3,000 members of the CWU and 736 from Unite are taking part in the industrial action at crown post offices, which began at 3am today. Activists marched on Westminster today (above) before making their way to Post Office headquarters in Finsbury Dials in Moorgate, London.

As many 3,500 staff could be affected by the pension scheme closure, and total redundancies could this year reach 1,700, Unite said.

The union has calculated that the under the new pension scheme, staff could lose as much as 30 percent of their retirement income.

The ongoing dispute, with this being the second strike in as many months, affects crown post offices, which are mostly the larger branches on high streets.

Gill Furniss, shadow minister for steel, postal affairs and consumer protection, said: “With branches closing, thousands of job losses and real uncertainty for the future, the Government has to take responsibility and set out a proper strategy for the future of the Post Office. It was the Government that split the Post Office from Royal Mail which is now paying out hundreds of millions of pounds in dividends – what we are seeing is a crisis of this Government’s own making.”

“The public and businesses which rely on the Post Office have a right to expect more than a programme of managed decline. We are calling for a new strategy to grow revenues and its services as a matter of urgency. The Post Office has been and should be a key part of our infrastructure but it cannot survive relentless cost-cutting.”

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “No-one is thinking of the future. This isn’t good for workers, it isn’t good for customers and it isn’t good for the future of the business. The CWU will not simply stand by and see another British Industry destroyed.”

“We have a simple demand – that the government pauses the cuts and brings stakeholders together for a structured period of talks to develop a plan that is about more than managing the decline of the service – our members and the public deserve nothing less.”

Brian Scott, Unite officer for the post office, said: “Our members were angered at the announcement earlier this month that Post Office management has requested the pension scheme’s trustees close the scheme from the end of March 2017.”

“The senior management has been pig-headed in refusing to enter into meaningful and constructive talks with the unions on these abysmal pension changes. We cannot just stand by and see the retirement incomes of our members being eroded by thousands of pounds.”

“This decision is unnecessary and mean spirited as the pension scheme is currently in surplus to the extent of more than £143 million. We, once again, call on the Post Office to reverse its decision to close the scheme.”

“Unless the management enters into talks in a positive frame of mind, more strikes are probable in the run-up to Christmas – the busiest time of the year.”

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