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24 January 2012
Responding to confirmation of separation of the Post Office away from Royal Mail Group, the Communication Workers Union welcomes confirmation of a 10 year commercial contract but urges caution over claiming success and raises concerns over the sustainability of jobs and services across the network.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: “This announcement paves the way for the end of the Post Office as we know it. It's the end of an era and an unprecedented step by the government – we're not aware of any other country which has severed the retail post office network away from the main mails, deliveries and logistics part of the business. When people think of the Post Office they think of the whole mail network from post office to postman, sorting and delivery – but not any more.
“Ed Davey's optimism is of course welcome but we think it is too early to claim success for an initiative which is untested, unprecedented in global postal industries and which has many uncertainties ahead – mutualisation for example. The new 'Locals' model is something which most customers and postmasters would argue does not represent progress as it in fact reduces access to services.
“We're relieved that government has at least taken on board our arguments that a minimum 10 year inter-business agreement between Royal Mail and the Post Office was needed to secure access to products and services, and of course revenue for post offices. Without our lobbying last year and the intervention of MPs from all parties this would not have happened. The irony of course is that a commercial agreement would not be necessary if the government wasn't separating the Post Office from Royal Mail.
“The future for the Post Office is less than clear. While some new contracts have been won they don't replace the huge contracts which have been lost. The 'Green Giros' benefit payment contract ends this year and National Saving and Investment products are being pulled out of post offices. These brought benefits to the whole network and their loss is already being felt by postmasters up and down the country.
“While little material difference will be felt today, from the separation date of 1st April Post Office staff will have questions and concerns about their job security and the protection of the their pay, pensions and employee benefits. We are continuing to do everything possible to protect both jobs and post office services.”
CWU represents workers in Crown post offices, postmasters and staff across Royal Mail Group.