Eastleigh’s main Post Office was closed for business this afternoon, as workers participated in a long-running industrial dispute.
Post Office Ltd, which is now a publicly owned Ltd company, has been independent of the Royal Mail since April 2012. As such, it is not directly impacted by the Governments plans to privatise the Royal Mail and todays industrial action was not specifically about that.
However there is a separate dispute over Post Office Ltd plans to close some of the 373 ‘Crown’ Post Offices which are located around the UK. This dispute has been running for some time and is ongoing.
The ‘Crown’ branches are the large High Street Post Offices, such as that in Eastleigh, whose core business is the Post Office Counter.
Eastleigh’s Post Office is not on the list of Crown Post Offices that are earmarked for closure, but its workers are supportive of the Communication Workers campaign to save them.
In many of the locations where Crown Post Offices are due to be closed, there are plans to merge the function of these Post Offices with major retailers, franchising the Crown Post Office business in the same way that happens with sub-post offices, e.g. in your local convenience store.
Customers of the Post Office on Southampton’s Above Bar branch of W.H. Smiths, will already be familiar with the benefits, or otherwise, of this model.
Post Office Ltd does not own or manage the existing network of sub-postoffices and these were all trading as normal this afternoon. The latest industrial action was confined to the Crown Post Offices.
A sign on the door of the Post Office in Eastleigh’s High Street directed customers to other Post Office branches instead.
Although the P.O. Building building and counter facilities were closed in Eastleigh, the hole-in-the-wall cash machine service was working as normal and the Royal Mail were still busy collecting mail from the postboxes outside.
One angry customer said to Eastleigh News;
“The Post Office is closed. I’ve never known anything like it…!”
Post Office announced on their website that;
“We’ll be doing everything we can to minimise disruption on the day, so that as many affected branches open and operate as normal.”
Meanwhile, the Communication Workers Union claimed on their website, that they were “Wearing down the Bosses”