CROWN Post Office branches in Trowbridge and Melksham continued to operate today, despite employees across the UK taking strike action over disputes about closures, franchising, jobs and pay.

The strike action, which started at 1pm, followed claims from the Communication and Workers Union (CWU) that plans to close or franchise 76 Crown offices would hit more than 800 jobs.

It was also prompted by a refusal from Post Office management to agree to a pay rise for staff. However, offices in Trowbridge and Melksham continued to operate, albeit with limited staff.

The walkout, which was the third round of industrial action in this dispute, was expected to affect up to 4,000 employees working in 370 Crown Post Offices across the UK.

A Post Office spokesman said: “Around half of our 370 Crown branches remain open and the remainder of our 11,800 branches are unaffected by strike action. We regret any inconvenience that may be caused by this needless strike action.

“The CWU is failing to accept the need to address the current loss of £40 million a year of public money across our Crown network.

“Through our critical modernisation plans we intend to turn this part of our business around and keep Post Office branches on high streets across the UK.

“We will invest £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.”