Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/524/3884
Stroud - Save our post office!
PEOPLE IN Stroud, Gloucestershire are angry at proposals to close another five local post offices and will be demonstrating through the town centre on 15 March. 2,500 closures have been announced nationally. This will devastate our communities, especially the elderly, disabled and those with small children.
Chris Moore, (Save Our Post Offices campaign)
At a recent 100-strong meeting, Post Office managers said the postal network had lost customers and was losing money and claimed there was no alternative to the closures.
But, several people said, the government had deliberately run down the Post Office. Those receiving pensions and benefits were pressurised to transfer payments to bank accounts, we can no longer buy TV licences or pay water rates at the post office while fewer branches deal with passports.
No postal service in Europe makes a profit; all receive government subsidies. Yet Royal Mail group, the parent company of Post Office Ltd made £233 million in 2006 and paid its directors £4.5 million in bonuses on top of their £2.5 million salaries.
Socialist Party members raised the idea of a demonstration, quickly forming a campaign group 'Save Our Post Offices.' The six-week consultation process is little more than a PR exercise. Post Office Ltd claimed there would be 'in-depth analysis' of how post offices serve the community before any are earmarked for closure.
But profitability was clearly the overriding criteria. The Post Office sent letters to threatened sub post offices, saying any discussion about closure could mean losing the compensation packet. A Northamptonshire sub-postmaster refused to sign the 'gagging order' and it has now been withdrawn.
Around the country Labour MPs claim they oppose post office closures in their constituencies. Yet all supported the Postal Services Act of 2000, which changed the Royal Mail group from a public service to a publicly owned business. Now the government and post office managers claim the business is losing money and post offices are axed.
Worried about losing votes at May's local election, the government told the Post Office not to implement closure decisions between 7 April and 2 May. The Tories also claim to oppose closures yet under their last government 3,500 were closed. Hollow words from politicians supporting the commercialisation of postal services won't save our post offices.
A national campaign is needed to challenge the government policy of post office privatisation and closures. We must oppose all closures, and fight for the future of our postal service. Gloucestershire has lost more than 50 post offices in ten years, in the future the government plans to halve the national postal network from 14,000 to 7,500.
The government found the money to subsidise and nationalise the bank Northern Rock, yet will not fund our postal service. More than ever we need a political party representing working-class people and challenging the rule of big business.
In The Socialist 12 March 2008:
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Post Office closures
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news
Socialist Party review