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Post Office Report - CWU 'disappointed' at Government response

05 Jun 2020, 10:53 ... -response/

Yesterday, the Government responded to the key improvement recommendations for the Post Office network made by the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee.

The Parliamentary Committee, which is elected from Members of Parliament of all parties in the House of Commons, published a detailed Report last October, based on the Inquiry that it held last year when all the various Post Office stakeholders were summoned to give evidence and invited to enter written submissions.

October’s Select Committee Report contained specific recommendations to the Government on the critical issues of Crown franchising, future public funding, Postmaster remuneration and representation, and other aspects of the network, such as its reach, density and revenue streams.

“Taken together, as a package, the BEIS Select Committee Report proposals set out a positive future for this vital public service – and most importantly, a robust and realistic pathway which the Post Office should take,” explains Andy Furey, CWU assistant secretary.

“It took on board all of the various issues and challenges and set out ways and means by which they could be addressed going forward.

“So, it was frustrating,” Andy continues, “to see the official Government response, which appears to ‘bat away’ the key recommendations.”

Unsurprisingly the Government statement defends the Post Office’s policy for franchising, argues that the franchising consultation process itself is acceptable, claims that the public is satisfactorily served in terms of access and declines to commit on future funding beyond the end of the current financial year.

“And in terms of our call for negotiating rights and recognition for our Postmaster members, the Government responds with praise instead for the NFSP,” said Andy, adding that “at one point, the Government even says that the NFSP ‘effectively challenges Post Office Ltd where necessary’.

“Postmasters will find that particular hollow claim difficult to believe – especially as so many have suffered victimisation and persecution from the Horizon scandal, when the NFSP did absolutely nothing to support them at all, in fact they totally backed the Post Office.”

Our general secretary Dave Ward has already contacted the Government, and the union will be meeting with Ministers shortly to urge the Government to rethink strategically and to work collaboratively with the union for a more viable future.

And further discussions will also be pursued with the new Chair of the BEIS Select Committee Darren Jones (Bristol North West) to seek to build the widest possible consensus behind the positive proposals set out in the Select Committee Report.

Dave Ward said: “The Government’s response to the Select Committee was disappointing, however we have a vision for the future which we will keep pushing, until the Post Office embraces a more progressive agenda for defending the network and developing and growing products and services for the future.

“And that’s what the CWU will do, alongside politicians of all parties, local communities and other businesses who depend on vital Post Office services.”

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