December 18 2013 Latest news:
by Lizzie Dearden, Reporter
Friday, September 6, 2013
Barkingside Post Office could be closed and moved into a shop within months if franchise plans go ahead.
The branch, in High Street, is one of around 70 crown offices that could be operated as a franchise in cost-cutting measures planned to stem £40million losses.
Redbridge’s other remaining crown office – South Woodford Post Office, in George Lane – is not affected under the plans.
The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) has staged 11 rounds of strike action in just five months over the franchise plans and ongoing disputes about jobs and pay.
Union representative Garrie Bond said workers fear franchising the branch would mean pay cuts, job losses and falling standards.
He added: “Although the company is saying the service will stay the same, that’s not always the case and it hasn’t been when it’s happened in the past.”
Earlier this year, a member of staff at Barkingside Post Office, who did not want to be named, said: “I don’t know why they are trying to franchise it.
“It’s so busy here and service has improved and sales are up on last year.
“All that and they are making a move to close the branch.
“There’s no other reason than to balance their paperwork but there’s nothing we can do.
“It won’t be the same service if they franchise it.”
But Post Office network and sales director Kevin Gilliland insisted there would be access to the same products and services.
He added: “The CWU is in denial of the need for us to modernise our crown network.”
If a “suitable retail partner” is found by the end of the financial year, the post office will move into a shop.
But if a franchisee is not found, the branch will not be closed. No decisions on a proposed partner have yet been made.
A Post Office spokesman said: “Once we believe we have found a suitable partner then customers’ views will be sought in a six-week public consultation.”
More than 10,000 branches are already run as a franchise, including offices in Ilford, Seven Kings and Wanstead.