Post Office staff walk out in 12th national strike over franchising plans

STAFF at Hastings Post Office staged their 12th strike on Monday (September 30).

Workers at the Cambridge Road branch walked out in the latest round of industrial action.

The strike was part of a nationwide walk-out and affected Crown branches, those directly owned by the Post Office.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) opposes plans by the Post Office to close or franchise more than 70 Crown offices.

Managers are currently looking for retail partners for the affected Crown branches, which includes the Cambridge Road one, where services would be run from within stores like WHSmith.

Mole Meade, the CWU’s area representative for the south east, said: “Monday’s strike was very well-supported.

“The general public have been outstanding in their support for us and in opposing proposed franchising of the Post Office and privatisation of Royal Mail.

“I’ve not met anyone who supports these plans.”

The CWU also wants to secure a fair pay increase for counter staff who have had no pay rise since April 2011.

Post Office workers in Hastings and Bexhill have staged a dozen strikes since March.

Several petitions have attracted thousands of signatures in protest over the feared closure of the Cambridge Road branch. In April Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen handed over a petition to Post Office management, which contained more than 4,200 signatures calling for the town centre branch to be left as it is.

It was set up by Ms Owen and her team from the Save Hastings Post Office campaign.

A similar petition set up by Hastings MP Amber Rudd also attracted scores of signatures.

The Post Office has previously said it is losing £40 million a year and needs to modernise its network.

It said it was investing £70 million into 300 of its Crown branches and added that no branch faced closure.

Managers from the Post Office received more than 200 expressions of interest from potential retailers for the 70 affected Crown branches.

Once a suitable partner has been identified there will be a full six-week public consultation before a final decision is made, a spokesman said.