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Solihull Post Office workers walk out again

IMCista | 19.07.2007 12:53 | Workers' Movements | Birmingham

Like elsewhere in the country, Solihull Crown Post Office workers walked out today and formed a picket line outside in protest at Post Office Ltd plans to close down further Crown Post Office branches and transfer services to WH Smith stores, with the loss of up to 1,500 jobs, as well as plans for a pay freeze and a pay cut for 80% of staff. The strike action was the second this week but the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has promised further actions to force Post Office Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Mail Group Ltd, to "think again".

Between 8:30 and 12 am, 20 out of the 22 staff who work at Solihull Post Office walked out, while the other two (one of them a CWU member) stayed behind their desks alongside managers who were shipped in from other parts of the region to keep the post office running.

On the picket line, striking postal workers said response from local people was "pretty positive." Some have even promised to write to Alan Cook, the Managing Director of Post Office Ltd, as well as to their MPs.

According to CWU, over 73% of members had voted for strike action in a secret ballot, with a 74% turn-out, in face of the "unreasonable actions" of Post Office Ltd. The Royal Mail subsidiary is planning to privatise 70 Crown Post Offices and move services into WH Smith stores and sell off or close further 15 branches. The deal follows a trial of 6 'Post Office outlets' in WH Smith stores. WH Smith is expected to make up to £2.5 million extra in its annual profits. Post Office Ltd also plans to impose a pay cut for 80% of staff for a period of at least two years, while offering the remaining 20% a below-inflation 'pay rise'.

There are currently 458 Crown Post Offices in the UK, compared to 1,500 in 1988. In Birmingham, there are still 11 of these, although the one in Erdington is going to go soon. Four Crown offices have already been closed down in Birmingham in the last two years.



Contingency plans

19.07.2007 13:13

After the picket finished, I went inside to get a shot of the managers doing normal staff's work. I was in no time approached by one manager, who asked me to stop taking picture and delete the one I've taken. When I asked why, he said "for security reasons" and explained that someone might use my picture for burglary or whatever. When I asked him about his name and looked at his badge, he was quicker to cover it with his hand. He was quite scared.

As you can see from the poor-quality photo, there's a couple of managers, in white shirts and ties, behind the counters, with only one member of the usual staff.