Post Office staff to stage strike this afternoon

STAFF at Hastings’ main post office will be on strike this afternoon (Friday).

Around 15 employees are expected to walk out from 2.30pm until close of business at the Cambridge Road branch.

The half-day of industrial action affects all Crown post offices, those owned directly by the Post Office, and includes the branch in neighbouring Bexhill.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said the strike is in opposition to Post Office plans to close or franchise more than 70 Crown offices. The union also wants to secure a fair pay increase for counter staff who have had no pay rise since April 2011. Thousands of people have already signed several petitions in protest over the feared closure of the Cambridge Road branch.

But the Post Office said its Crown branches were losing £40 million a year which was being subsidised by public money.

Staff at the Cambridge Road branch staged a one-day strike on Easter Saturday (March 29).

Mole Meade, CWU area representative for the south east, said: “We are a 350-year-old public service and the last stop for many people. We are only striking for half a day so it does not have a detrimental effect on customers. Our dispute is with the Post Office, not with customers.”

Campaigners are holding a street stall in Hastings town centre today to get signatures on a petition against the proposals by the Post Office.

The Post Office has condemned the CWU’s call for further strike action and said it was already investing £70 million in 300 of its Crown branches.

Kevin Gilliland, network and sales director at the Post Office, said: “We want to keep Post Office branches on high streets across the UK. We are investing £70 million in 300 Crown branches and are proposing to partner 70 branches with suitable retailers. These branches are not closing. Any move to a retailer’s premises would offer access to the same range of Post Office products and high levels of customer service in a new modern branch. The CWU is in denial of the need to modernise our Crown network. It is currently losing £40 million a year. There is no room for manoeuvre and further strike action will only cause needless disruption.”