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Redbridge post office workers strike over Barkingside franchise but public opinion divided

PUBLISHED: 11:13 03 April 2013 | UPDATED: 11:13 03 April 2013

A customer reads the sign put on the door to explain the closure of Barkingside Post Office.

A customer reads the sign put on the door to explain the closure of Barkingside Post Office.

Archant

Barkingside and South Woodford post offices were closed on Saturday after staff walked out on strike over disputes including plans to close Barkingside and move it into a shop.

But opinion is divided over the possible merits of franchising the Barkingside branch.

In a debate on community forum Streetlife, user Mark H said the plan “made sense”.

He added: “The need for standalone post offices is rapidly declining as people move with the times - why should they continue to make a loss for the few people who are lagging behind?”

But others pointed out that many people with out access to a computer rely on post offices.

Ron J branded the closure of Ilford’s crown office in Clements Road and move to WHSmith a “disaster”.

He added: “Barkiingside Post Office is always busy - with the queue running outside.

“Why spend £2million tarting up the area outside the library and close down the post office?

“Madness.”

Dee S agreed that staff in WHSmith were not “friendly or helpful” but said the franchised Becontree post office in Nisa, in Woodward Road, was “a move for the better”.

Barkingside is among 70 crown offices, which are directly run by the Post Office, earmarked for “retail partners”.

Network and sales director Kevin Gilliland said crown branches are losing £40million a year and being subsidised by public money.

“This cannot continue,” he added.

But for the Communication Workers Union (CWU) members on strike, the fate of Barkingside added to grievances over jobs and pay.

CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward called the franchise plans “destructive”.

He said: “The Post Office’s plans are short-sighted and would rob the network of the most productive offices while simultaneously putting hundreds of jobs at risk and potentially damaging local economies.

“We’d like to see a better vision for a successful network which maintains services in the heart of communities alongside quality jobs.”

A Post Office spokesman said “no conversations” have yet happened with retailers about the Barkingside office, which is planned to be franchised by April 2015.


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