CWU frustrated as government “bats away” Post Office recommendations

The CWU has reacted with frustration at the government’s response to recommendations for the Post Office network made by the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee.

October’s Select Committee Report contained specific recommendations to the government on Crown franchising, future public funding, postmaster remuneration and representation, and other aspects of the network, such as its reach, density and revenue streams.

CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said: “Taken together, as a package, the BEIS Select Committee Report proposals set out a positive future for this vital public service – and most importantly, a robust and realistic pathway which the Post Office should take. It took on board all of the various issues and challenges and set out ways and means by which they could be addressed going forward.

“So, it was frustrating to see the official government response, which appears to ‘bat away’ the key recommendations.”

The union says the government statement defends the Post Office’s policy for franchising, argues that the franchising consultation process itself is acceptable, claims that the public is satisfactorily served in terms of access and declines to commit on future funding beyond the end of the current financial year.

Andy Furey said: “And in terms of our call for negotiating rights and recognition for our postmaster members, the government responds with praise instead for the NFSP. At one point, the government even says that the NFSP effectively challenges Post Office Ltd where necessary.

“Postmasters will find that particular hollow claim difficult to believe – especially as so many have suffered victimisation and persecution from the Horizon scandal, when the NFSP did absolutely nothing to support them at all, in fact they totally backed the Post Office.”

CWU general secretary Dave Ward has contacted the government, and the union will be meeting with ministers shortly to urge the government to rethink strategically and to work collaboratively with the union for a more viable future.

And further discussions will also be pursued with the new Chair of the BEIS Select Committee Darren Jones (Bristol North West) to seek to build the widest possible consensus behind the positive proposals set out in the Select Committee Report.

Dave Ward said: “The government’s response to the Select Committee was disappointing, however we have a vision for the future which we will keep pushing, until the Post Office embraces a more progressive agenda for defending the network and developing and growing products and services for the future.

“And that’s what the CWU will do, alongside politicians of all parties, local communities and other businesses who depend on vital Post Office services.”

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