Editor’s comment: Privately run Post Offices are a bad deal

CWU activists gather signatures pledging to boycott Rizwan Salahuddin's stationery products in the e

CWU activists gather signatures pledging to boycott Rizwan Salahuddin's stationery products in the event that he takes over Finsbury Park Post Office. Picture: CWU - Credit: Archant

“Modernisation” – there’s a loaded word. It comes from the same cribsheet of corporate innuendo as “regeneration”.

It’s funny how modernising things always seems to involve workers having fewer rights and customers having fewer guarantees.

But you’ve got to feel a bit sorry for mysterious stationer Rizwan Salahuddin, who without so much as selling an envelope has found himself at the sharp end of 300 biros.

And I can’t help but worry that boycotting his shop will only hurt him, not the Post Office bigwigs pulling the strings on this not-so-gradual privatisation. They know people need a Post Office and rarely have the luxury of time to spend going elsewhere; I doubt it’s any skin off their noses if a stationer trying to make a living ends up struggling to do so.

But it’s also worth pointing out there is a remote possibility the boycott, if it is implausibly successful, could actually drive the franchised Post Office out of business – which I’m guessing isn’t a result anyone wants.

Noses, faces and spite aside, that would prove the point the CWU is making: that a Post Office run by a shop doesn’t represent the best deal for anyone except the government, which is gleefully siphoning off Britain’s national assets to plug a hole originally caused by – well – the reckless pursuit of money.

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If the government really believes that franchising crown Post Offices is the best thing for staff and customers, it should put its money where its mouth is. Guarantee workers’ rights and commit to give future employees the benefits the current ones have; make provisions to ensure there’ll always be a Post Office in Finsbury Park whatever happens to the stationer’s. Otherwise, the promise of modernisation isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

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