When Mark Baker and Nippy Singh left the NFSP back in 2011 as protest against NT and the Postal Services Bill, they were welcomed by the CWU who helped them set up a subpostmasters branch within that organisation. At the time it was a good arrangement as collectively they could voice their concerns about the proposed changes as well as providing shelter for disenfranchised former NFSP supporters.
However with the CWU came the presumption that this was a left wing trade union not really the choice for independent businessmen. I think that feeling alone has caused many Subpostmasters not to join the CWU, while they support the views and aims of the CWU Subpostmaster’s branch.
Earlier this year, George Thomson, the General Secretary of the NFSP held talks with both the CWU and the NFRN about a possible merger in light of falling membership and the need to maintain his salary. I don’t think either organisation could afford him so he ended up teaming up with POL. POL will now pay the membership fees of subpostmasters and George will keep his salary. So of course the best interests of his membership will be served.
A good example of this is a recent post on a forum by Ian Park of the NFSP negotiating committee. I can’t repeat it here but basically he says that as far as the new Label Printing process goes, POL just did what they wanted to do. He says both sides have agreed that the extra work will be paid extra but he has no idea what that will be. Oh really? Isn’t he the chair of the negotiating committee for the NFSP and hence all subpostmasters?
In the July edition of the NFSP magazine Thomson outlined the rational behind the join up with POL (I guess he omitted to mention his salary) He said, “new operatives were not joining the NFSP because of the retail nature of their business: “They’re asking themselves why, if their shop makes £20k a week and their post office makes £10k a year, would they need to join an organisation that primarily deals with post offices? For them the future is retail.”
The agreement between the NFSP and POL brought restrictions placed by POL on the NFSP. I think Ian Park summed it up nicely “There are restrictions in that we are not allowed to damage the Post Office, but that is not something we would seek to do now.”
Nuff said George. Thanks for the tip. It seems to me that the NFRN, while not a perfect fit is far better suited to represent the interests of subpostmasters. I guess the ACS is also a suitable candidate but they already represent their subpostmaster members at a very high level.
Perhaps the time has come for the CWU Subpostmaster’s branch to look at a more suitable partner than the CWU. While I would not break the ties completely – hopefully any transition would be a friendly one – I think the NFRN would bring more to the table than the CWU can provide and the NFRN membership could benefit from the input and support from a very active subpostmaster group.
Worth a thought? – I think so.