Post Office services in Greater Manchester and south-west Wales could face disruption if a ballot of 500 workers by the Commercial and Workers Union (CWU) beginning today results in a positive vote.
The CWU is polling its 500 members who work for the Post Office to voice their opposition to the franchising of 'crown office services' to high street stationery specialist WH Smith.
The franchising to WH Smith will result in a series of closures of 27 existing post offices, including those in Chorley-cum-Hardy, and Ashton-under-Lyne and Altrincham, Cheshire in the Greater Manchester area.
"If we don't act now there won't be a Post Office network left to save," commented Greater Manchester branch manager Jim McNicholls, who claimed that 65 jobs had already been cut by the Post Office.
Meanwhile seven post offices face closure in south-west Wales, mainly in the towns of Swansea and Llanelli, in a move described by CWU chairperson Roger Jones as going "against the Welsh Assembly and government's own plans for regeneration in Swansea".
CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey argues that the decision is a bad one because WH Smith "has no history of providing the sort of services that the Post Office supplies" while existing skilled workers will be losing their jobs.
"Our members are deeply unhappy over the continuing downgrading of the service and are particularly alarmed at the emerging partnership between Post Office and WH Smith's," Mr Furey said.
"Valuable public services and skilled staff are being lost to inexperienced retailers who refuse to take on Post Office employees."
Results of the ballot are expected to be announced on August 23rd.