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Union fights to save ‘constantly busy’ Old Street post office from closure

Opponents fear consultation will be ‘lip service’ ahead of high street switch

04 October, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

The Communications Workers Union led a demonstration outside the Old Street Crown Post Office

MORE than 200 years of experience is set to be lost if a major post office is closed down, union campaigners have warned.

Members of the Communications Workers Union protested outside the Old Street Post Crown Office on Saturday in a last-ditch bid to save what they described as a “much-loved” stop on the high street.

As the Tribune previously reported, Post Office Ltd has opened a consultation over plans to sell the flagship store and squeeze services into the back of a Co-Operative supermarket further down the road.

CWU area representative Clive Tickner told the Tribune: “The majority of the current staff will probably leave the business, that’s losing more than 200 years of experience with good trade union protected jobs being lost for minimum wage unstable jobs.”

He added: “We’ve had a good day outside the post office witnessing a constant stream of customers. They’re selling off a vital public asset here in order to make a quick pound. It’s the customers and the staff who will end up suffering from this if they don’t make a stand now.”

More than 500 people signed a petition on the day calling on Post Office Ltd to cancel the plans, Mr Tickner said.

But many regulars believe the closure is a “done deal” and that the consultation, which ended on Wednesday, was merely a formality.

Jack Lewen

Jack Lewen, 95, who regularly uses the Old Street branch, campaigned to save the service in the early 2000s when it was moved from a location further down the road.

Mr Lewen, of St Mary’s Tower off Whitecross Street, said: “I thought at the time it was cut and dry before they even started the consultation. It was lip service as far as I can see.”

The post office is due to close in January.

Bunhill councillor Phil Graham said: “We are getting mixed messages from all parties concerned about why this is happening.

“The Post Office is telling us one thing, planning officers are saying another and Co-op staff are saying another. There is a lot of confusion over the leases.”

The publicly owned Post Office Ltd was set up as a separate entity from the Royal Mail to provide front of house services and manage the brick and mortar branches, which have been gradually sold off to plug funding gaps.

A Post Office Ltd spokesman said: “We will let the community know once we have reached a final decision. We are talking to the Old Street branch team about their potential options.”

He added: “Employees would have the right to transfer their employment in line with TUPE legislation following any decision to franchise their branch, there might also be opportunities for redeployment or a voluntary settlement.”

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