Post Office denies ‘bribing’ workers to halt strikes



Employer says £3,000 bonus is not dependent on staying off picket line – but could be compromised by prolonged industrial action

The Post Office has denied offering ‘bribes’ of up to £3,000 to encourage workers to call off a 24-hour strike planned for Thursday.

Communication Workers Union (CWU) and Unite members plan to take action over pension-related issues and the closure of crown offices – main Post Offices, whose services are increasingly being incorporated into other high street stores.

The dispute has been escalated by a £3,000 performance-related bonus offered to staff, which the employer says could be compromised by prolonged industrial action.

The timing of the payment has been characterised as an attempt to “try to weaken the resolve of the union” – something the Post Office denies.

Terry Pullinger, deputy general secretary of the CWU, told the TUC Congress in Brighton: “Their [the government and the Post Office’s] idea of success is to sell crown office buildings, put the money in the government’s coffers, then outsource or franchise the service by sticking it in the back of a WHSmith, redeploy decent, union-negotiated jobs and replace them with minimum wage, zero-hours contracts.

“The government has now closed the defined benefit pension scheme, probably the best funded in the country. They are using public money to bribe people to ‘scab’ in this dispute, offering them £3,000 to try to weaken the resolve of the union, but they will not be successful.”

The Post Office refuted the claims. A spokeswoman said: “The union’s comments are misleading. The £3,000 referred to by the union will not be compromised by taking industrial action on Thursday.

“It is a conditional payment being made to employees within our supply chain business for maintaining certain quality standards during a period of change.

“Clearly, taking prolonged industrial action could make it more difficult for us to achieve quality standards, and the payments we have offered would be less affordable if quality drops and we lose revenues as a result.”

The Post Office is now at “crisis point” as a result of government cuts and “gross mismanagement”, delegates at the TUC Congress were told.

Ivan Monckton of Unite said: “Ultimately, the public will suffer and services will be eroded by neglect from the top. Post Offices are essential to our communities; their closure will affect the most vulnerable in society.”

The Post Office is planning to cut a further 2,000 jobs, and staff are being left “tens of thousands of pounds worse off in retirement” said Dave Ward, general secretary of the CWU.

“We are making a simple demand. The government needs to pause the cuts, convene a summit of key stakeholders in the industry and work out a strategy that gives employees and the public confidence that the Post Office has a future,” added Ward.

“The Post Office has pointed to the bottom line in making these cuts, but it cannot pretend that using public money to pay off staff so they can be replaced with part-time jobs on the minimum wage is a success story or that closing down its flagship branches is a defence of the service.

“The Post Office has got to get out of the cycle of closures, job losses and attacks on staff terms and conditions. It needs a serious plan to grow revenues in areas like financial services.”

The TUC called on the board of the Post Office to resign and a motion urged the government to intervene and halt the cuts.

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