The Future of the Post Office – Political Campaign
The purpose of this LTB is to update branches on our political work and recent developments in relation to the Post Office dispute and to outline the support we would ask from branches on this.
As branches will be aware, the dispute was a key focus for the union at both Labour Party and TUC Conferences in September. The TUC unanimously backed the union’s motion expressing its support for our members taking strike action and Labour Conference agreed that the party should commit to establishing a Post Bank as part of its next manifesto – this is further than it has ever gone before.
The union’s campaign was also promoted by the Communications Department through social media, with a number of General Secretaries from other union’s giving their backing to the CWU with online videos. We also distributed a briefing to delegates at Labour Conference on the dispute.
Following this, there are a number of activities we have undertaken in Parliament to move the political campaign forward:
• We have secured a backbench debate in Parliament on the Post Office for 17th November – this required a significant amount of lobbying to gain cross-party support for a motion and support on the Backbench Business Committee in order to approve the debate.
• We have provided tailored briefing documents to MPs whose constituencies are directly affected by the Post Office’s proposals in advance of the debate and are lobbying to secure support for this.
• We have written to all MPs outlining the crisis the Post Office faces and the key demands of our campaign.
• Early Day Motion (EDM) 571 calling for a new strategy for the future of the Post Office was tabled by Kelvin Hopkins MP. This currently has 51 signatures.
• A range of written and oral questions have been provided to MPs to raise in Parliament to put pressure on the government.
• We have contacted the Public Accounts Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee to push them to hold an inquiry on the issue. Discussions on this are ongoing.
• Members of the CWU Parliamentary Group of MPs have taken up the issue and are pushing this with the government, the Labour frontbench and the relevant Parliamentary Committees. Many of the above points also involved support from MPs on the group.
Alongside this, we have been working closely with the Labour Shadow BEIS team of Clive Lewis MP, Gill Furniss MP and Jack Dromey MP. We have met with them to talk through the issues, the campaign and how this can be progressed in parliament and the media and we have provided them with a detailed briefing document, oral questions and written questions.
We have also met with and spoken to the government minister with responsibility for the Post Office, Margot James MP, who we are continuing to push over our key demand that the government pause the programme of cuts and bring together key stakeholders to work out a new strategy for the future.
Finally, as branches will have seen, a significant number of MPs have backed our members on social media using the hashtag #PeoplesPost, particularly on the last day of industrial action on 31st October. A significant amount of work has been done by the Communications Department to secure their support.
On 9th November the government published a consultation document on the future of the Post Office which we believe is a direct response to our campaign and the pressure that it is coming under in both parliament and more widely.
It is important to recognize that this is a significant development. The government and the Post Office are due to start discussions over a funding package from 2018 onwards and it has never previously conducted a consultation to feed into this.
While the consultation document does not set out a vision for the future of the Post Office and may be intended by the government to provide some cover for continuing on the path of managed decline, we clearly need to use this opportunity to make the case for a positive strategy based on growth and to get the public’s support for this.
We will therefore be running a campaign to get as many submissions as possible to back the union’s position and in particular our call for a Post Bank. Further information will be provided on this shortly.
Support for the political campaign
In order to support the political work we are doing, we would ask branches to undertake the following actions:
i. write to their local MP to urge them to take part in the debate on the Post Office on 17th November – the debate will be in Westminster Hall at 3pm;
ii. ask members to contact their local MP on Twitter to urge them to take part in the debate with the following tweet:
With flagship branches closing the Post Office is in crisis. Please take part in the debate on 17th Nov 3pm #PeoplesPost
iii. write to their local MP to ask them to sign EDM 571 at the following link https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2016-17/571.
It is extremely important that MPs hear from constituents on the campaign and in particular that Conservative MPs are aware of the strength of feeling on the issues. Branches are therefore asked to treat this as a priority.
As branches will appreciate a significant amount of work is being done to the move forward the political campaign on the Post Office. We will be continuing to push these issues and will be seeking a fresh meeting with the government in the wake of the consultation announcement. Any queries branches have in relation to this element of the campaign should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To inform our future decision making, a senior reps briefing and Special Postal Executive will be held on Thursday 9 November together with a national briefing on Monday 14th November at the Indian YMCA. Further information on the industrial elements of the dispute will be provided to Branches by the Postal Department as appropriate and any queries on this should be directed to email@example.com.
Dave Ward Terry Pullinger
General Secretary Deputy General Secretary (Postal)
Email Attachments – Click to download
LTB 659/16 – The Future of the Post Office – Political Campaign