STAFF across eight post offices in Manchester will participate in a one-day strike on October 31.

Post Office managers are to join a one-day strike by other workers in a dispute over pensions, jobs and the franchising of Crown offices.

A portion of staff from Barnes Green, Didsbury Village, Eccles, Gorton, Manchester Spring Gardens , Middleton, Prestwich and Walkden Central will walk out, potentially affecting services in the region.

More than 700 members of the Unite union will walk out next Monday, alongside thousands of members of the Communication Workers Union.
Unite warned that more strikes could be held in the run-up to Christmas – the busiest time of year for the Post Office.

The largest trade union in the country, Unite officer Brian Scott said: “Our members were angered at the announcement earlier this month that Post Office management has requested the pension scheme’s trustees close the scheme from the end of March 2017.

“The senior management has been pig-headed in refusing to enter into meaningful and constructive talks with the unions on these abysmal pension changes. We cannot just stand by and see the retirement incomes of our members being eroded by thousands of pounds.

“This decision is unnecessary and mean-spirited, as the pension scheme is currently in surplus to the extent of more than £143 million.

“The senior management team seems unable to provide a coherent business plan for the future and that’s why we have asked for junior business minister Margot James to investigate the Post Office, ultimately owned by the Government, as we believe that the management has not got a good grasp of the issues facing the organisation, nor a coherent plan for the future.”

Branches will remain open

The Post Office said most of its network of 11,600 branches will not be affected by the strike.

Network and sales director Kevin Gilliland said: “We are confident of our ability to manage industrial action but we will continue to try to reach a constructive way forward through talking with our unions.

“The Post Office has repeatedly invited the unions to discuss strategy and present its view of the future of the business to our group executive and board.”

The Post Office confirmed recently that the trustee of its defined benefit plan had accepted the proposal to close it to future benefit accrual from March 31 2017.

Natasha Wilson, the Post Office’s reward and pensions director, said of the decision to close the final salary pension scheme: “We recognise the significance for members of the plan and we made several enhancements to our proposals to try to lessen the impact on individuals.

“Closing the scheme at the end of this financial year represents the best way to fulfil our responsibilities to members while ensuring that the defined benefit (DB) plan remains funded at a level that is right for our business.

“Protecting members’ benefits and keeping the DB plan properly funded continues to be an important stewardship responsibility. Taking this decision is the right and responsible thing to do both for members of the plan and for the long-term financial health of the business.”

Members of the DB plan will join the company’s defined contribution scheme from next April.

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