Call for strikes over Lancaster post office plans

Lancaster Post Office.
Lancaster Post Office.

Post office workers may strike over plans to move Lancaster Post Office to WH Smith.

The postal workers union has balloted 3,500 members over proposals to shut 20 post offices nationwide and ‘privatise’ 60 more including Lancaster.

The Communication Workers Union says the plans will put up to 2,000 jobs under threat.

Dave Ward, general secretary of the CWU said: “The Post Office as we know it is on the brink of extinction.”

The ballot will run from August 1 with the result due on August 19.

It also covers the Post Office’s decision to close its defined benefit pension scheme.

The CWU said closures would “decimate” the post office network and leave just 230 post offices around the country.

“It is clear that the Post Office board’s plan is one of closure, redundancy and cost cutting on an epic scale which will permanently undermine this great British institution,” said Mr Ward.

“The lack of imagination and ambition for this great British institution is staggering.

“We are left with no choice but to take strike action to defend the jobs and pensions of our members and the services they provide.”

The Post Office is proposing to move Lancaster Post Office branch from its current location in Market Street and create a new branch within the WH Smith store at 21 Market Street, extending opening hours for customers, including Sunday opening, and continuing to offer the same services with the exception of a cash machine.

A public consultation on the proposals ran until June 22.

Roger Gale, general manager of the Post Office Crown Network, said: “We are committed to keeping our services on high streets which we know is hugely important to people.

“We need to make changes so that we can continue to do that into the future.

“WH Smith already operates more than 100 Post Office branches from their stores in the UK and we’ve been successfully working with them for nearly 10 years.”

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster, has opposed the move of Lancaster post office saying WH Smith is an inappropriate venue.

The last strike action by crown post office staff was in December 2013 and the last strike action by supply chain workers was in December 2014.