Post Office staff who are members of trade unions Unite and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are taking part in strike action in a dispute over the closure of the organisation’s defined benefit (DB) pension scheme to future accrual and potential job losses.
The 24-hour strike action commenced at 3am today (Monday 31 October 2016). It involves more than 700 managers who are members of Unite, and more than 3,000 members of CWU who work in Post Office branches, admin and supply chain units.
The industrial action centres around potential job losses, branch closures, and the closure of the Post Office’s DB pension scheme to future accrual.
The trustee of the Post Office section of the Royal Mail pension plan has accepted the proposal to close the DB scheme to future accrual from 31 March 2017.
The Post Office plans to move current DB pension scheme members to the organisation’s defined contribution (DC) scheme from 1 April 2017. The Post Office plans on providing staff with financial planning information to help with this transition.
The unions estimate that 3,500 employees will be affected by the pensions change.
Today’s strike action follows a 24-hour strike on 15 September 2016.
Natasha Wilson, reward and pensions director at the Post Office, said: “Taking this decision is the right and responsible thing to do both for members of the plan and for the long-term financial health of the business.”
Kevin Gilliland, network and sales director at the Post Office, added: “The Post Office wants to reach a constructive way forward through talking with our unions. More than 99% of people in the UK live within three miles of a Post Office branch, but we must make changes to safeguard that level of service for future generations.”
Brian Scott, officer for the Post Office at Unite, said: “We cannot stand by and see the retirement incomes of our members being eroded by thousands of pounds. This decision is unnecessary and mean spirited as the pension scheme is currently in surplus to the extent of more than £143 million. We, once again, call on the Post Office to reverse its decision to close the scheme.”
Dave Ward, general secretary at the CWU, added: “We have a simple demand; that the government pauses the cuts and brings stakeholders together for a structured period of talks to develop a plan that is about more than managing the decline of the service. Our members and the public deserve nothing less.”