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Post Office union members accuse bosses of not letting them into talks after court win

15 Jun 2020, 12:25

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/p ... e-22189591

EXCLUSIVE: The Communication Workers Union say they are being denied representation during discussions, and fear new CEO Nick Read is planning changes that could see small branches close

Post Office union members have complained bosses are refusing to let them into talks following their victory in a £57.8million High Court battle.

Dodgy IT systems saw some bankrupted, wrongly jailed and led to one suicide before damages were awarded to subpostmasters accused of theft.

But nearly six months after a judge slammed Post Office bosses who covered up the problem leaders say talks aimed at "re-setting" relations are being evaded.

The Communication Workers Union say they are being denied representation during discussions, and fear new CEO Nick Read is planning changes that could see small branches close.

Postmasters branch secretary Mark Baker said a rival union, the National Federation of Subpostmasters, continued to be the only recognised body in talks.

He said: "We've been totally excluded from any negotiations. We've been challenging the CEO on how this fits with the commitment to reset relations with subpostmasters.

"We, as subpostmasters, have not been able to choose our representative body. They don't want to speak to anybody who will answer back."

Mr Baker said issues with the Horizon IT system still continued, but postmasters were being "kept in the dark" over what was being done to address these.

And he said union members feared improvements were not being made to Horizon because the Post Office was planning to scrap the system and roll out PayZone systems like those found in convenience stores.

He said this could herald the closure of branches, with more complicated services related to passports and driving licence applications centralised in cities and large towns.

Convenience stores would be able to offer simple services like postage, meaning increased competition could see small branches close.

He said: "Nick Read has created the environment for us to speculate. What does he mean when he says he wants to simplify the offer for retailers? That sets hares running.

"It's like trying to get blood out of a stone trying to get information out of them. We will always be resistant to change if we are not involved in it."

A spokesperson for Post Office said: “We are focused on helping every postmaster build their businesses. Under new leadership, we have significantly increased postmaster remuneration and communication, providing individual, personalised support in a modern, commercial partnership.

"Postmasters and their customers are our priority and today’s Post Office is fundamentally changing from its historical past.”

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