STAFF from the post office in Hastings town centre are planning a fourth strike on Tuesday (May 7).
The decision has been called by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) after workers walked out of the Cambridge Road branch on Monday (April 29) from 1pm during a half-day strike.
The industrial action affects all Crown branches, those directly owned by the Post Office. Staff will be on strike all day on Tuesday.
The ongoing dispute centres on Post Office plans to close or franchise more than 70 Crown offices. The CWU also wants to secure a fair pay increase for counter staff who have had no pay rise since April 2011.
More than 100 people attended a public meeting on Monday at the White Rock Hotel to discuss the issue. Speakers included council leader Jeremy Birch, Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings, Andy Durey, from the CWU and Roger Gale, general manager for the Post Office’s Crown network.
Ms Owen handed over a petition to Post Office management. More than 4,200 people have signed it since the petition was set up by her and her team from the Save Hastings Post Office campaign. A similar petition set up by Hastings MP Amber Rudd has also attracted scores of signatures.
Ms Owen said: “Any loss of postal service for the town will have a negative impact not just to the dedicated staff here, but also the local economy. It is clear that our Crown post office is a valued community asset which provides a vital service.”
Mole Meade, CWU area representative for the south east, said: “No one could have left Monday’s meeting not knowing that the public, politicians and everyone else is opposed to the Post Office’s plans. We would like to apologise to all customers for any inconvenience caused due to this strike. But if we do not highlight this problem we will lose a 350-year-old public service.”
Kevin Gilliland, network and sales director at the Post Office, said: “The CWU’s call for further strike action is extremely disappointing. It can only cause further disruption to customers and will not change Post Office plans to bring the Crown network, which is currently losing £40 million a year of public money, back into profit. Any strike action will only affect three per cent of our 11,800 branches.”