Customers vow to boycott stationery shop post office
Campaigners are told that public will have no say in switch from Crown office to franchise
25 August, 2017
Campaigners Zena Sullivan, Sara Burgess and Geraldine Timlin with Steve Jones and Clive Tickner, from CWU
CAMPAIGNERS attacked plans to convert Finsbury Park Post Office into a franchise at a heated meeting where it was revealed new workers will be paid minimum wages and there will be no public consultation on the proposed changes.
Ten residents and three officials from the Communication Workers Union (CWU) met Post Office representatives and Rizwan Salahuddin, prospective franchise operator of the Crown post office in Seven Sisters Road, on Monday.
Finsbury Park resident Geraldine Timlin presented Mr Salahuddin with a folder containing nearly 2,000 signatures protesting at the franchise plans and 366 pledges to boycott a franchised post office.
Mr Salahuddin plans to open a stationery shop in the post office, which will still offer existing services apart from biometric enrolment for passports.
After the meeting, Ms Timlin said: “A Crown office offers a full range of services. A lot of people will need to travel farther to get their passports.
“There is an established stationery shop just 50 metres away [from the post office] which has been there for 40 years.”
Mr Salahuddin said if his stationery shop failed he would open a franchised gift store or a photographic studio.
But residents have voiced concerns about the quality and number of staff in the new post office.
Franchise owners can decide how many staff they employ and their wages.
Mr Salahuddin, who lives in Wood Green and is manager at Ryman stationery store at the franchised Gray’s Inn Post Office, revealed he would be looking to pay his workers the minimum wage. He said there would also be one less counter and that he would take on the role of manager.
Asked why he was paying only the minimum wage, he said: “It depends how you lead the team, how you lead by example, how you create a good atmosphere. It doesn’t matter about the wages. In Ryman, they pay the minimum wage. People are still working there and my office is on top.”
The Crown post office’s existing 10 staff can either transfer to the new office, with the same pay and conditions under law, receive a volunteer redundancy package or move to another Crown post office.
But CWU official Steve Jones said “the word on the street is that all the current workers are looking to leave”. He estimated that most of them had worked at the Finsbury Park branch for more than 20 years.
According to a document given out at Monday’s meeting, the Post Office is looking for comments but “the decision to change the way we operate the branch, so it is run by Mr Salahuddin, is not a matter for public consultation”.
There are currently around 300 Crown post offices publicly owned and directly managed by Post Offices Limited, out of a total of 11,500 throughout the country.
In 2013, the government gave Post Offices Limited £210m to run post offices, but the figure was cut to £80m this year, prompting a fresh wave of sell-offs.
Speaking to the Tribune after the meeting, Mr Salahuddin said he was not put off by the petition or the boycott pledges.
“It’s their right to do this. It’s not making me worried,” he said.
A Post Office spokeswoman said: “The team at Finsbury Park branch will have the opportunity to transfer to the new branch.
“Their terms and conditions of employment are protected under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 and would automatically transfer to the new franchisee/employer upon opening.”
Residents can submit comments until September 6 at www.postofficeviews.co.uk or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org