Updated: Monday, 14th October 2019 @ 6:12pm

Union members call on Mancunians to fight for 'Great British' Post Office

Union members call on Mancunians to fight for 'Great British' Post Office

| By Mason Jones

Union members are calling on Mancunians to sign a 20-foot postcard in protest of the Post Office being sold off to private firms.

The postcard, which is hanging on the side of a double-decker bus on Piccadilly Gardens, carries a message from former Business Secretary Sajid Javid asking the government to ‘protect the heart of the high street’.

Members from the Communication Workers Union say that government plans to move up to 85 more branches into WHSmith stores will kill the Post Office as we know it.

“The Post Office is in crisis, the government is secretly closing it down and what we’re trying to do today is to highlight to the people of Greater Manchester that it is under threat,” CWU Officer Andy Furey told MM.

“They’re stripping costs, attacking pension schemes and our members are suffering as a consequence of the lack of investment and the uncertainty that was brought about by the privatisation of Royal Mail.”

The plans to move the branches include some of the 39 directly-run Crown branches which the Post Office announced it would franchise earlier this year.

Post Office bosses say high property costs and changing customer habits mean that the organisation must join up with private companies to survive.

“The coalition government privatised the Royal Mail and kept the Post office in the public sector but is now starving it of investment," said Furey.

“We want to highlight to the public what is happening because they just don’t know. It’s happening right under their nose and they don’t realise.

“Jobs are going, services will get worse and the only ones who will suffer is the public.

“They’re looking to put Crown post offices into the backs of WH Smiths, it is blatant privatisation.”

Last week, it was also revealed that almost 3,500 Post Office workers are being forced to take a cut to pension benefits as the government tries to save cash.

Union members say that the move from a final salary pension scheme to a ‘defined contribution scheme’ could cut a worker’s retirement pay-out by 30%.

“Small businesses rely on the Post Office and so do elderly people, disabled people and young mothers,” said Furey.

"I'ts there for all of society and it’s part of the fabric of the high street.

“The attacks on the terms and conditions of directly employed people, and the postmasters who are self-employed, are absolutely outrageous.  

“Post masters are handing back their keys and essentially saying they can’t make a living out of it.

“If we’re not careful we will lose the great British Post Office of our high streets.”

The CWU has already stopped off at Edinburgh and Glasgow and will continue touring the UK with their postcard.

The group plan to get signatures in Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol before heading to the capital on Friday.

“We’re going to City Hall in London to meet with Sadiq Khan, who’s supporting our campaign, and then on to Westminster to meet the new [Business] Minister Greg Clarke.”

“We’re going to present this 20-foot postcard, which already has thousands of signatures, and tell him that the Great British Public love a Great British Institution.”