POST OFFICE: THE FUTURE OF THE CROWN NETWORK – JOINT STATEMENT
The purpose of this LTB is to update branches on positive progress we have made in recent discussions with Post Office on the future of the Crown network and to publicise the attached Joint Statement that we have now agreed and which has been endorsed by the Postal Executive.
As branches will know there are currently 114 Crown offices, down from 373 in 2012, after successive closure and franchise programmes have been carried out by Post Office. Over the past year, while our members working in Crown offices have provided a vital service as “key workers” in keeping the service running, we have been working with both the Government and Post Office to try to agree a fresh approach and a new strategy to try to secure the future of the network. This has been particularly important as income across the network has sharply declined over this period.
Meetings have been held with Government Ministers and Post Office management, including the CEO Nick Read, and we have put forward a number of new proposals for improving the financial position of Crown offices that we want to work on. We have also been in discussion with local and devolved governments about opportunities for providing new services and new ways they can support local branches.
As a result of this work, we have agreed a Joint Statement which sets out a commitment from Post Office to a period of talks over the next six months until the end of this year, to:
- jointly explore alternatives to franchising including new ways of growing revenues and reducing costs
- and exploring the possibility for entirely new operating models that can continue to provide job security for our members.
To facilitate this dialogue, Post Office has committed to a fresh moratorium on further closures/franchising, which will run until at least 31st December 2021.
Alongside this, we have agreed to a limited VR exercise under MTSF, for a maximum of 120 Crown office staff, to immediately improve the financial position of the network, which has unfortunately seen a fall of more than 25% in income over the past year compared to pre-pandemic levels. Further detailed communications on this exercise will be provided to members working in Crown offices via Andy Furey, Assistant Secretary.
While the Joint Statement is a commitment to talks and there is a lot of work we still need to undertake to try to reach a long-term agreement, we believe this is a significant and positive development given that Post Office has unilaterally pursued a closure and franchise programme without meaningfully engaging with the union for a number of years. The Joint Statement represents a clear shift in this position and it provides a period of stability for our members and an important opportunity for us to make the case for an alternative approach. We will need to shift our focus and attention to build on this and we will shortly be undertaking work with our Regional Secretaries to pursue opportunities with local and devolved Governments.
Further developments and progress on talks will be reported in due course. Any queries on industrial issues related to this LTB should be directed to the C&CH department at email@example.com and any queries on the union’s political engagement on this should be directed to the General Secretary’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deputy General Secretary (P)