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Four Post Office stores in Kent being sold to WHSmith

22 Feb 2019, 14:15 ... th-199339/

Post Office workers face an uncertain future after a decision was made to sell off four Kent branches to WHSmith.

Maidstone Post Office, on Week Street, has already completed the transfer with WHSmith confirming ownership on Tuesday.

All previous staff in this branch have since been replaced by a new team.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) suggested this is because WHSmith is offering a starting salary of £7.83 per hour, lower than the wages originally paid by the Post Office.

Tonbridge completed the transfer just over a week earlier on February 1.

Ashford and Dartford are two other Kent towns set to follow suit.

With the date already set, the Ashford store will exchange on March 21.

Dartford is currently in the "public consultation" stage of the process, gauging the community's response. This will end on March 20, and soon after a decision should be made.

These changes to management were highlighted because the Maidstone store was forced to close yesterday due to lack of staff.

The Post Office moved from Maidstone's Bank Street to WHSmith in Week Street in August 2016 and customers were assured there would be no change in services, aside of the new location.

In a statement released at the time Post Office Ltd said: "The service will still be run by us and you’ll be served by the same branch team."

In November, it was revealed 74 post offices across the UK were set to be sold to the stationery company, sparking a day of action by the CWU.

According to the union, this move has put an estimated 800 jobs at risk in total.

A Post Office spokesman said: “While we cannot give out details of individuals’ decisions, we of course talked to all our employees affected by this change.

"Employees had the right to transfer their employment in line with TUPE legislation, or to look at other opportunities, including redeployment or voluntary settlement.”

The spokesman confirmed there were no compulsory redundancies.

In the Post Office's statement of 2016 outlining the move from Bank Street, the spokesman added: “Our customers’ needs continue to change and we are responding to that, taking the right action to sustain our services for years to come.

“We believe the WHSmith premises will provide an excellent host location for Maidstone Town Post Office.

"The WHSmith retail offer will complement the wide range of Post Office products and services, which will continue to be available following the move.”

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