Union says government ignores concerns of postmasters and communities


The government is in denial over Post Office changes, says the CWU.

The union is gravely disappointed with the publication yesterday of the government’s response to the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee report on Post Office Network Transformation, saying it ignores the concerns of the Committee and fails to grasp the problems within the network.

General secretary Billy Hayes said: “The government is ignoring the fears of postmasters and the communities they serve which are being betrayed by the failing approach to the ‘Locals’ model.

“We feel the government has unjustifiably ignored the key recommendations in the Select Committee’s report and is in denial about the serious flaws in the Network Transformation plan.  The government will not be able to sustain their statement of ‘no programme of closures’ in the long term, due to the lack of take up of the new operating models.

“If the project was as successful as is being purported then the Post Office would surely have been inundated with requests to convert, however this has not happened and the Post Office is desperately trying to seek volunteers, regardless of how this may affect communities.

“More time must be spent working with postmasters to develop solutions to the problems the network faces.”

The Post Office Local model has been on trial since 2008, yet the trial is still needing to be modified. It is promoted as voluntary to convert, but subpostmasters who are reliant on the success of the project are reluctant to sign up to the Local model. Many are coming under pressure to convert and others who may wish to sell or retire fear their office will be closed and forcibly converted to a Local giving the community no say in the change of service.

Billy Hayes said: “Whilst changes such as longer opening hours might on the face it be welcome to the consumer, in reality, customers tend to stick to their own shopping habits, and there is evidence that the new regime where customers have to queue for retail goods in the same queue as those wanting post office services, has not been welcomed by consumers.

“We would be interested to see an updated list of the number of branches that have converted to a Local, and those which have closed and been replaced by an Outreach service where the local shop has turned down the opportunity to take on a Post Office Local. We’re concerned about the future of our post offices and encourage the BIS Committee to continue its ongoing scrutiny of this issue, perhaps by calling the Minister and the Post Office for further questioning.”

The CWU along with its Post Bank Coalition partners, FSB and Countryside Alliance, will be responding to the Government’s response by 7th December.

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