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POST OFFICE COMMITTED TO WORKING WITH UNITE TO SECURE SERVICES FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS, AND URGES AGAINST UNNECESSARY INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Press release   •   Sep 06, 2016 12:32 BST

  • Post Office making steady progress in plans to ensure that Post Office branches thrive for future generations
  • Should industrial action take place itwill not involve over 97 per cent of Post Office’s over 11,600 branches
  • Post Office has contingency plans that will minimise disruption to services during industrial action
  • 243 Unite members voted in favour of strike action

The Post Office today restated its commitment to working with Unite to secure Post Office services at the heart of communities across the UK for future generations, saying it hoped a solution could be reached through scheduled talks.

It said that 243 Unite members voted in favour of strike action, with 379 members choosing to take part in the ballot, around half of members.

The Post Office stressed it is keeping people across the business fully informed of any changes which might affect them, including its proposals for changes to its pension scheme.

Kevin Gilliland, Post Office Network and Sales Director said:

“All of our proposals are taken forward with the utmost care for the people they affect and we’re proud of our track record in supporting people through difficult changes.

“The business’s financial position is improving but we remain loss making. Based on the advice of our Actuary, the fund’s surplus, which is currently being used to help subsidise the cost of the DB Plan, will run out in 2017.

“Once this happens, the costs to the business of meeting existing commitments will significantly increase, and this is not sustainable. We therefore need to close the DB Plan to future accrual when the surplus runs out, because it is crucial that we safeguard the benefits that members have already built up.

“We’ve done what we can following consultation and having taken further advice from our Actuary, to make changes to what we are proposing to try to lessen the impact on individuals. We are clear that our recommendation is the responsible thing to do both for members of the plan, and for the long term financial health of the business. It is currently being considered by the Trustee.”

It reassured customers that no industrial action has been called and urged Unite to continue in talks. It stressed 97 per cent of its over 11,600 branches are not involved in the ballots for industrial action and said it would be working hard to minimise any disruption to customers in the around 300 Crown branches if industrial action was called in the future.

The Post Office added that comments from CWU and Unite regarding the business’s performance are misleading. It said it is making progress towards commercial sustainability and reducing its reliance on taxpayer subsidy, with losses halving in the 2015/16 financial year in spite of challenging and competitive markets.

The Post Office’s network of 11,600 branches is at its most stable for decades. Over 99 per cent of people in the UK live within three miles of a Post Office branch. To secure that level of service for the future, there has been significant investment over the past few years to modernise the business and the branch network.

In just over three years the Post Office has modernised over 6000 branches, leading to improved facilities and more convenient and accessible services for customers. It is now the UK’s largest retail network open on Sundays, with over 4000 branches open seven days a week. Thousands more of its branches are opening for longer, from early in the morning until late in the evening. Extra opening hours across the network now total over 200,000 a week.

Kevin Gilliland, Post Office Network and Sales Director, added:

“We are making steady progress to modernise the UK’s biggest retail network. These changes are needed to make our services better for customers and ensure that Post Office branches thrive at the heart of communities for future generations.

“We halved our losses in 2015/16 and are making steady progress to reduce costs to the taxpayer by making our business simpler to run and modernising our network, which is now at its most stable for decades.

“We want to work with our Unions to create the Post Office network that our customers need for the future, and will pursue this discussion through our scheduled talks.”

Ends.

About the Post Office

About Post Office: Post Office Limited has an unrivalled national network of over 11,500 branches across the UK, more than all the high street banks combined, and sits at the heart of many communities across the country.

It provides around 170 different services and products spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards. Post Office also offers Government services, telephony, foreign currency, travel insurance and mail services.

99.7% of people live within three miles of their nearest Post Office outlet. For many rural communities the Post Office is the only retail outlet. Post Offices remain highly valued and trusted and are the focal point for many communities. For more information, visit www.postoffice.co.uk