Isle of Man Post Office (IOMPO) is very disappointed that members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have voted to support strike action.
Julie Edge MHK, Chairman of the Post Office, said: "Naturally it is disappointing this course of action has been determined, when it has the potential to cause maximum impact at a time of year when our valued customers heavily rely on our postal service, and trust us to deliver their special cards, letters and presents. It is also unfortunate this has been pursued when we remain open to negotiations. However, we can reassure our customers that should a strike materialise, a robust contingency plan will come into effect which will minimise disruption to the excellent service we usually provide."
Postal workers who are members of the CWU (approx. 200) were balloted in relation to changes to modernise its operations and proposed pay and pension reforms. The IOMPO posted a financial loss last year (2017/18). This is the first loss in its 45 year history and is clearly a reflection of the rapidly changing postal industry as digital communications replace letter mail and less people use counter services in favour of digital alternatives. While parcel volumes are growing with e-commerce, the associated revenues from this growth and the IOMPO's other commercial services are no longer sufficient to offset the decline in letter mail.
Ms Edge said: "The IOMPO Executive has been in negotiations with the respective unions for some time on a range of proposals with supporting rationale, addressing concerns, implementing changes and exploring counter proposals put forward by both unions. The proposals under discussion include changes to ensure the IOMPO remains compliant with the impending Equality Act, ensuring fairness, while seeking to attract and retain employees. It would appear that the timing of strike action is aimed to coincide with IOMPO's strategic recommendations on aspects of its five-year strategy, being put before Tynwald for approval next week."
The other representative body, the Communication Managers Association (CMA), are not in dispute with the proposals offered.
Ms Edge continued: "We value the work of Post Office workers and it is in everyone's best interests to conclude negotiations and hopefully reach an agreement. We appreciate change is not easy but strike action will not alter the difficult circumstances which requires the Board to be financially prudent. We have robust contingency arrangements in place which we are confident will ensure a minimum level of disruption to our customers in the event a strike may take place. In this case we would be discussing our contingency plans closely with our customers in order to keep them as fully up-to-date as possible. We work in a customer service industry and our customers are a prime concern."
IOMPO awaits to be notified by the CWU on when and what action will be taken and in the meantime, encourages customers to start posting early and ordering items coming to the Island in good time, to ensure delivery ahead of any planned strike action.