On the same day as postal workers took industrial action against the Post Office, I called on the leader of the House to secure a debate into the recent actions and spending of the Post Office.
This year alone post office workers will see 2,000 job losses, a further 100 branches close and the closure of their pension scheme.
Services have been outsourced to retailers such as WH Smith, which has installed a Post Office counter at the back of some of its stores. For the public this means a significantly worse service and the loss of a community asset – and for staff the impact is equally dire.
These retailers don’t want to match the terms and conditions the Post Office has paid its employees – and the income the Post Office counter offers the retailers wouldn’t cover this even if they did. So the Post Office is using tens of millions of pounds to pay off long-serving staff to leave, so they can be replaced with part-time workers on the minimum wage.
The government must recognise that the Post Office is in urgent need of new thinking. What is needed now are a proper series of talks with the government and the Post Office, to formulate a strategy that will safeguard it for the future.
You can read the exchange below:
Jo Stevens MP:
Today, postal workers across the UK are taking industrial action to protect their jobs, their pensions and our post offices. The Post Office has received £2 billion of public money over the past seven years. May we have a debate about why that money has not been spent on new services, securing the future of our post offices and protecting decent jobs?
Mr Lidington, Leader of the House of Commons:
I regret the fact that there is industrial action, because all that will do is inconvenience customers and make it more likely that those customers will look elsewhere for the delivery of parcels and for communicating messages, rather than using Post Office services. The Post Office has indeed been given taxpayers’ money to enable it to make the difficult transformation to a world that relies increasingly on electronic and digital communications and in which there are other competitors for things such as parcel delivery. In general, this has to be a matter of commercial judgement for the Post Office management.
You can watch the exchange below.