Thousands of postal workers will strike on Thursday (15th September) after voting overwhelmingly for industrial action. The strike will cause major disruption for e-commerce companies hoping to get parcels and packages to their customers.
The Communication Workers Union balloted 3,500 of its members in Crown offices (those directly managed by the Post Office), supply chain depots and administration sites across the UK. The union warned of an ongoing dispute over jobs, services and pensions, saying the Post Office was at a crisis point. In the ballot, 83% of members who voted were in favour of walking out.
Dave Ward, general secretary of the CWU said: “The Post Office is relentlessly pursuing a programme of cuts that will mean a further 2,000 job losses, staff being left tens of thousands of pounds worse off in retirement and the privatisation of its flagship branches.”
What’s the alternative for e-retailers?
The first major Post Office strike since the 1970s could have a significant impact on businesses and the general public. Around 300 Crown Post Offices won’t open on 15th September in a row over closure plans and pensions.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT says: “The strike will impact on the main Crown Post Offices in UK towns and cities. Businesses and individuals need to plan ahead to mitigate delays to their shipments. People using Post Offices to ship parcels should try to send them a day earlier; or use a recognised international courier such as DHL, UPS or TNT, who will come to your premises or home and pick up your items, bypassing the need to visit the Post Office entirely.”
Jinks adds: “We understand why Post Office staff are taking these actions: the Communication Workers Union (CWU) claims the Post Office plans to franchise around 60 of its main flagship Crown Post Offices; move another 16 into other stores such as WH Smiths, and close four Crown Post Offices entirely. Additionally, the organisation is seeking to close the Post Office’s defined benefit pension scheme. But businesses and individuals rely on their packages being delivered, whether important products or birthday presents; and everyone needs to work together to minimise disruption to people’s lives and businesses.”
The General Secretary of the CWU, David Ward, says: “The Post Office as we know it is on the brink of extinction.” But the Post Office – which was not part of the sell-off of the Royal Mail and remains a state-owned service – is under pressure to reduce costs. Post Office usage is falling as letter volumes reduce, and door-to-door courier services encourage more people to ditch the traditional Post Office queue for the convenience of a pick-up direct from their home or office.
The Post Office network needs urgent modernisation but important branches need protecting – and no one likes to hear of potential job losses of skilled staff. CWU Deputy General Secretary Terry Pullinger said the 24-hour strike would be the first day of industrial action.
“As the situation is not likely to be resolved quickly there is a possibility of further industrial action so it is sensible for everyone to have contingency plans in place,” says Jinks. “The quality couriers we at ParcelHero work with, such as DPD, UPS and DHL are not connected to the Post Office network, so items sent on September 15 will not be impacted.”
Post Office network and sales director Kevin Gilliland said the service had halved losses in 2015/16 and was making “steady progress” in reducing costs to the taxpayer.