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Tuesday, 27 August 2013 00:00

Fed-up Post staff walk to defend jobs

by Rory MacKinnon Scotland Reporter

Determined Post Office workers walked off the job today across Scotland in a warning to stubborn bosses that they are willing to fight for their jobs and pay packets.

And counter staff with the Communications Workers Union are set to walk off the job again in England and Wales tomorrow following strikes across Britain over the bank holiday weekend.

Up to 4,000 Crown Post Office staff are involved in the strikes against hundreds of looming job losses, a three-year pay freeze and the continued sell-off of branches to franchisees as part of management cost-cutting.

Yet the state-owned company's chief executive Paula Vennells has seen her total pay soar by a full 50 per cent in a single year, with a basic salary of £250,000, a £62,500 payment in lieu of pension and bonuses worth £375,000.

Ms Vennell's pay package adds up to nearly half a million pounds in total - more than 23 times the average pay of a counter clerk.

Speaking on the picket lines in Edinburgh today the union's East of Scotland secretary David McCloy said it was no surprise that people were "fed up."

Five months of losing pay to industrial action had not helped members' moods either, he said.

But the nine-to-one vote in favour of today's strike showed they were far from giving up.

"Christmas is coming - it's got to reach a tipping point sometime soon," he said.

One Edinburgh picketer who did not wish to be named said the stakes were higher than he'd ever seen in 18 years behind the counters.

More than 70 offices are slated for closure, with up to 1,500 jobs at risk.

Others could be leased to private business owners - but counter staff at franchises were typically on little more than minimum wage, he said.

"Rather than bringing them up to our level, [management] want to beat us down.

"I'm a single guy - I've got a mortage to pay, I've got bills to pay like anyone else - [but] there's people working on the counter with kids.

"I'm almost 50, but we've got quite a few staff on the counter who are just in their 20s - it's going to affect their pensions too.

"If that's the job I worked for 18 years, what are their lives going to be like?"

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