HUNDREDS of Post Office staff in Sussex, Kent and Surrey are being balloted for strike action after the company refused a pay rise for a second consecutive year.
The Communication Workers’ Union has served notice for a strike ballot among almost 4,000 members nationwide in a dispute over pay, job security and the future of the post office network.
The union said that despite increased profits of £72 million last year, awarding a 2.25 percent pay rise to managers this year and increasing directors’ remuneration by 21 percent (worth £3.9 million in 2009-10), Post Office Ltd (POL) has “pleaded poverty” and is refusing to consider a pay rise for counter staff.
The company is also refusing to extend a guarantee on the number of crown offices, the union says, which implies that further closures are being planned.
Mole Meade, CWU representative for Sussex, Kent and Surrey, said: “POL’s attitude is about driving a race to the bottom on terms and conditions for staff and further downsizing the post office network.
“The company is showing callous indifference to the work and living standards of hard-working counter staff while at the same time increasing pay for managers and directors.
“It’s double standards and fat-cat economics in the extreme.
“This is particularly hard for staff in Sussex, Kent and Surrey where living costs are higher than in the rest of the country.
“POL is being deliberately provocative by saying our members are overpaid compared with staff in privately run sub-post offices and franchises.
“The reality is that these workers are disgracefully exploited with pay rates barely above minimum wage.
“We’re also concerned about job security and post office closures. There have been a lot of closures or franchising of offices to stores like WH Smith in southern counties
“The company has no vision – and worse still appears to have no desire – to give staff a fair and just pay settlement or to work towards a sustainable post office network.
“Their approach spells disaster for Post Office employees and will further wreck the services that communities rely on.”
The union nationally has written to Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene making it clear that CWU remains available for talks to resolve this dispute.
Ballot papers are due to be dispatched today (Friday) and the ballot closes on March 4.