Post Office employees who are part of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and managers who are members of trade union Unite are taking part in strike action today (Thursday 15 September 2016) in a dispute over pensions and job cuts.
The 24-hour strike centres around job losses, branch closures, and the proposed closure of the Post Office’s defined benefit (DB) pension scheme from April 2017. The scheme has more than 3,500 active members represented by CWU and Unite.
In total, 83% of CWU members voted in favour of industrial action on a turnout of 50%.
At Unite, 64% of Post Office managers who took part in the ballot voted for strike action, and 78% voted in favour of supporting industrial action short of a strike.
Brian Scott, officer for the Post Office at Unite, said: “Unite’s members voted strongly for industrial action in protest at the Post Office decision to close the defined salary pension scheme. The pension issue needs to be seen against the backdrop of continuing redundancies and the latest franchising of 20 Crown post offices, which are a result of the failure of top management to have a viable and sustainable business plan to secure services for the public and jobs for the workforce in the future.
“We are also very concerned that the government is supporting the closure of the pension scheme, while refusing to provide the necessary funding for the Post Office going forward.”
Terry Pullinger, deputy general secretary (postal) at CWU, added: “The proposals from the Post Office to close its pension scheme has no justification. With a surplus of over £130 million the Post Office has the best funded pension scheme in the country. In closing down the Post Office is stealing the money our members have built up over many years of service and backtracking on its promises to keep the scheme open.”
Kevin Gilliland, network and sales director at Post Office, said: “The Post Office is a national institution that is successfully adapting to change and we are safeguarding the future of the network.
“It is crucial that we safeguard the benefits that members of our defined benefit plan have already built up. The business’s financial position is improving but we remain loss-making. The fund’s surplus is currently being used to help subsidise the cost of the plan, and based on the advice of our actuary, it will run out in 2017.
“Once this happens, the costs to the business of meeting existing commitments will significantly increase and will not be sustainable. We therefore need to close the DB plan before the surplus runs out.”