The Socialist 7 June 2007 |
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Coventry says 'keep our Post Office open'
THE SOCIALIST Party's campaign to keep Coventry's main Post Office open is attracting wide support. The closure of Hertford Street branch would be a devastating blow for the city. Scandalously, smaller Post Offices are being axed across the country, but Coventry would be one of the largest cities to lose its central office.
Thomas House, Coventry Socialist Party
The plans make so little sense that people who came to sign our petition couldn't believe that it was really being proposed! In addition to 2,500 sub-post office closures recently announced by the Labour government, Coventry's main office closure is part of a Post Office Ltd plan to privatise 85 Crown Post Offices, 70 of which would be relocated in branches of W H Smith's.
As the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have argued: "Post Offices will be replaced by retailers whose primary aim is to make a profit rather than provide a service."
People did not believe the government's arguments that the internet reduces the need for a Post Office. There are always queues in Hertford Street, and not everybody has internet access. Elderly people who have never even turned a computer on are scared that they will not be able to stand long enough to access services at a reduced number of counters when the office is moved into a W H Smith.
Meanwhile, the local mail sorting centre at Bishop Street is slated to be closed, with the preferred replacement in Northamptonshire. So, a letter posted to the council from within the city would travel to its destination via a different county!
Around 600 local jobs could be lost, hot on the heels of job losses in manufacturing and the NHS. While Starbucks and IKEA are coming to Coventry, skilled jobs and public services are leaving. This can be stopped, but only on the basis of a co-ordinated fight-back.
The CWU has taken up these issues, and organised one of the largest local demonstrations of recent years to keep a mail sorting centre in Coventry. Political parties, other than the Socialist Party, have however merely tried to extract maximum political capital for minimum effort.
In the run-up to the council elections, we vied for street space with the Tories, who promptly vanished after 3 May. Labour have been invisible on the streets, but claim to oppose the closures. When interviewed on local radio, however, Coventry MP and former Jaguar boss Geoffrey Robinson said the government has "better things to do" than "interfere in the business of every private company". In other words, when Royal Mail (which is in fact a public company) said no, rather than fight for his constituents he simply gave up.
This sums up the pro-capitalist politicians' approach. Not only is their main priority their own re-election rather than any principle, but their politics offers no solution to the problems facing working-class people.
Only a socialist society, with decent funding for infrastructure and pay, can secure a decent mail and Post Office service in the long term.