Post office customers urged to help fight sell-off plans
Post Office users in the Westcountry will be asked to sign special postcards urging the Government to halt its sale of the Royal Mail.
The campaign from the National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) is urging MPs to take immediate action to safeguard the future of post offices.
The Government announced plans for the £3 billion privatisation of the Royal Mail last month.
But the NFSP fears that privatisation could see cuts as Royal Mail's new owners seek to maximise profits.
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The organisation said it expects hundreds of thousands of the postcards to be sent to MPs urging the Government to:
halt the sale of Royal Mail and retain a stake in the company
increase access to government services at post offices
allow millions of people to continue to collect their pensions and benefits at post offices
offer a comprehensive range of banking services at post offices
Ian Park, NFSP executive officer for the South West, who runs a post office in Paignton, said it was particularly important for rural communities.
"For the rural communities especially because they are more isolated," he said. "The danger is without the Government the post office doesn't have a sufficiently rosy future for us to feel happy about how things are going."
The NFSP estimates that around 33% of sub-postmasters' pay is derived from the sale of Royal Mail products.
It added that sub-postmasters are now earning less from government services than they did three years ago.
The organisation is also calling on government to ensure people can continue to collect their pension and benefit payments at post offices once the Post Office card account contract ends in March 2015.
George Thomson, General Secretary of the NFSP, said: "The government and Post Office Ltd (POL) continue to insist that all is well for the UK's post offices, but we know that the reality is very different.
"Sub-postmasters are finding it increasingly difficult to make a living from their post office; urgent action is required to ensure this vital service remains."
"We have reached a critical point in the future of the post office network; doing nothing is not an option. Unless we see new work and reasonable rates of pay for sub-postmasters we face a future where this vital public service, which offers support and guidance to millions of people, is irreparably damaged."