Melksham workers go on strike over plans to shut office

Wiltshire Times: Terri Welch, right, manager of Melksham Tourist Information Centre, and mum Carolyn Withington with Post Office protesters Terri Welch, right, manager of Melksham Tourist Information Centre, and mum Carolyn Withington with Post Office protesters

Staff at Melksham’s Post Office will go on strike on Saturday over plans to close it down. The Post Office has announced plans to close the Crown Office on Church Street and move the PO inside another shop in the town. The news has angered people in the town who say it will mean a poorer service. Terri Welch, town councillor and manager of the Tourist Information Centre, said: “We have a wonderful Post Office. It works well together with the TIC, and I support the strike if they are drawing attention to the matter. “I know the staff there and have spoken to them, and I am concerned if the service was franchised out we wouldn’t enjoy the standard of service we have come to expect.” Chris Roche, of the Communications Workers Unions said: “We hope this will bring the Post Office to the negotiating table, but if not there will be further action. Melksham is struggling in the current climate and if this post office was to close it would be a major blow to the local economy and to the services which many people rely on.” Seven CWU members at the Post Office in Church Street will be out on strike and joining in a protest outside from 10.30am to midday. Mr Roche said the strike will cause disruption but he believes people in the town will support the staff. “I think people in Melk-sham will recognise the benefit that a Crown Office brings to the town,” he said. Town crier Peter Dauncy said: “In all honesty it does disrupt everyone, but they are striking for a reason.” Mrs Welch added: “Being the end of the month I know the queues will be there for the car tax. It’s going to strike a lot of people quite strongly. “I would certainly support the workers, they are superb. They know their jobs, they have ongoing training, and a franchise wouldn’t offer that. “Every Saturday you see the stream of people rushing there and it is one of their busiest days.” The sorting office in the same building was moved to Chippenham last year. The strike is part of a series of walkouts across the country. Corsham Post Office is also affected. Kevin Gilliland, network and sales director at the Post Office said: “We are committed to keeping a Post Office branch on high streets such as Melksham. “The best way for us to do this is to partner with a retailer. This is not a closure plan, our aim is to find a suitable retailer from which the branch can operate.”

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10:29am Fri 29 Mar 13

philmcm says...

What people forget is that the Post Office's primary duty is to its shareholders. Long gone are the days when it existed to provide a service. There is no doubt we are going to lose the facility in Church Street - the battle is lost already. What we as a community need to be doing now is fighting to retain a counter service in the town centre and not lose it to somewhere outlying like Asda or Leekes - you may think I'm joking but that's exactly what has happened in Westbury already. The management team behind closing all of our High Street Post Offices have a script to follow, of which the spokesman's quote above is only one of several well-worn sayings - the next will be "XXX, Post Office regional network manager for Wales and West of England, said: “We understand how important having a Post Office is to residents in XXX and we are confident that this new modern Post Office service will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future."
What people forget is that the Post Office's primary duty is to its shareholders. Long gone are the days when it existed to provide a service. There is no doubt we are going to lose the facility in Church Street - the battle is lost already. What we as a community need to be doing now is fighting to retain a counter service in the town centre and not lose it to somewhere outlying like Asda or Leekes - you may think I'm joking but that's exactly what has happened in Westbury already. The management team behind closing all of our High Street Post Offices have a script to follow, of which the spokesman's quote above is only one of several well-worn sayings - the next will be "XXX, Post Office regional network manager for Wales and West of England, said: “We understand how important having a Post Office is to residents in XXX and we are confident that this new modern Post Office service [located in a corner of a supermarket] will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future." philmcm

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