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Post Office staff across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to strike today

PUBLISHED: 11:54 19 April 2013 | UPDATED: 11:55 19 April 2013

Post Office workers on strike in Norwich in 2009.

Post Office workers on strike in Norwich in 2009.

Archant © 2009

Post Office workers from across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are set to walk out today over an ongoing dispute over branch closures, job security and pay.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) will walk out after lunchtime today after almost 90pc of those balloted voted for strike action.

The strike action will affect up to 4,000 staff in 373 Crown post offices in a dispute over closures. Staff from local branches at the Castle Mall in Norwich, Dereham, Diss, Lowestoft, North Walsham, Thetford and Wisbech will walk out from 2.30pm today.

A picket line is also planned outside the branch in Wisbech.

Officials from the CWU said the union was opposed to Post Office plans to close or franchise 76 Crown offices - 20pc of the network -which would affect over 800 jobs. The union added that staff have had no pay rise since April 2011.

Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: “This is effectively a Post Office closure programme in a desperate attempt to slash costs to meet government funding cuts by 2015. The Post Office can talk about ‘transformation’ and ‘sustainability’ all it likes but the reality is that these are euphemisms for closing offices, drastically altering the make-up of the post office network and handing the running of services over to corporations which are built around other income streams and could walk away from post office services.”

“These are services and as taxpayers we value them and want our taxes to bring us services we value. It’s not a simple ‘profit and loss’ calculation. The government is the elephant in the room here and they must be held responsible.”

The latest industrial action comes after Post Office workers from the CWU also went on strike on Easter Saturday over the dispute.

Officials from the Post Office have condemned the action and said the strikes will do nothing to change the need for the business to modernise, which is losing £40m a year.

A spokesman said the remaining 97pc of the network was unaffected by strike action.

Kevin Gilliland, network and sales director at the Post Office said: “We want to keep Post Office branches on high streets across the UK. We are investing £70 million in 300 Crown branches and are proposing to partner 70 branches with suitable retailers. These branches are not closing. Any move to a retailer’s premises would offer access to the same range of Post Office products and high levels of customer service in a new modern branch.”

“The CWU is in denial of the need for us to modernise our Crown network. It is currently losing £40m a year of public money. There is no room for manoeuvre and further strike action will only cause needless disruption to customers.”

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