Post Office staff striking today in Bury St Edmunds over proposal to relocate services to WHSmith

The main post office in Bury St Edmunds

The main post office in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

Post Office staff will strike today ahead of a public meeting this evening discussing the business’s future in Bury St Edmunds.

A protest outside the proposed franchising of Bury St Edmunds' post office earlier this year

A protest outside the proposed franchising of Bury St Edmunds' post office earlier this year - Credit: Archant

The Post Office has launched a public consultation over a proposed move onto the first floor of its neighbour WHSmith, in Cornhill.

Staff were intending to walk out from 3pm until 5.30pm to distribute leaflets ahead of the public meeting.

However, last night the Communication Workers Union said it was still considering an all-day strike after claiming the Post Office told staff they would be docked a full day’s pay if they walked out for two-and-a-half hours.

A Post Office spokeswoman, however, said they were only aware of strike action proposed between 3.30pm and close at 5.30pm.

“We want to maintain our presence on high streets for years to come and our proposal for Bury St Edmunds Post Office is to help us do that and protect services to our customers for the future,” she said.

“We are disappointed that the union is planning strike action on Friday afternoon but can reassure our customers we expect to provide service as usual.”

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Tim Pavelin, from the union, said he felt the Post Office had been “heavy handed” in its treatment of staff.

“We think the management are being very heavy handed in their approach,” he said. “It’s unprecedented in the history of the Post Office that they would take a full day’s pay for the part-day’s action.”

While admitting it would be “perfectly legal” for the Post Office to deduct a full day’s pay for a part-day strike, he said none of the staff had been put off by this, adding they were “prepared to lose a day’s pay”.

“They’ve pushed us into this,” he said of the Post Office.

All the seven members who will be striking are attending the public meeting from 6pm-8pm in Odd Fellows Hall, in Whiting Street.

“They really do enjoy their jobs and want to stay as a crown post office and it seems they’ve had no answers to the questions that were asking about the premises and the franchising proposal,” he said.

If the Post Office did decide to move to WHSmith, staff would have the option of transferring over. What would become of the Victorian building is unknown. The Post Office owns the freehold to the site.

Tonight’s meeting includes a talk on the post office’s history in Bury from historian Martyn Taylor, as well as talks from borough councillor Diane Hind and Andy Furey from the Communication Workers Union.

The Post Office is also hosting a drop-in customer forum on proposed changes so that its plans can be discussed.

It will be on June 1 at The Centre, in St John Street, from 3.30pm-7.30pm.

To take part in the public consultation, which runs until June 15, visit www.postofficeviews.co.uk, send an email, call 03457 22 33 44 or write to FREEPOST Your Comments.