The NFRN – a better choice for Subpostmasters?

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.

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3 thoughts on “The NFRN – a better choice for Subpostmasters?

  1. For once, Tim, I categorically disagree with you

    Firstly, NFRN primarily represent newsagents, and while some of SPMRs are also newsagents, many are not.

    Secondly, many of us are in competition with neighbouring newsagent businesses who are heavily into the Hermes and other courier businesses, so its difficult to see how they could negotiate with POL for our advantage without potentially disadvantaging their non PO members, or being in conflict with other couriers.

    Thirdly, NFRN have done little to mitigate the rate cuts from Paypoint et al, so do not appear to be doing a significantly better job than even NFSP

    Fourth, even in their primary sphere of influence, NFRN haven’t been able to prevent the concentration of the market to SMiths and Menzies that have resulted in changes to terms and charges to the detriment of their members.

    The clinching argument to me, and the reason I joined CWU, is that whereas SPMRs have seen their pay steadily eroded, CWU members in RM, BT and POL have seen some increase, however minimal.

    Given that CWU represent virtually every other worker in POL, whatever the political cloud surrounding the CWU, together we are stronger, whereas with the lickspittle NFSP or unknown NFRN we will still be at risk of being picked off one by one.

    We already know the CWU will fight for its members, whereas even the defunct NFSP was more interested in sucking up to POL than doing their job, as those hundreds of convicted SPMRs already know,

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  2. I became a member of the CWU when I thought they would be acting in the interest of the Postmasters I was wrong. They are too big and there is a conflict of interest with the Crown Offices and Royal Mail so I cancelled membership. I would like to know who agreed the latest move to get us to put Postcodes and house names/nos. on all 1st and 2nd class parcels and implement it in November, in the run up to Christmas. Funny, it was in November when they introduced size based pricing too! I think they want to p us off so much that we give up and they won’t be blamed for the closure.

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    • RM decreed this, POL implemented it and NFSP seem to be powerless to do anything about it.

      Ultimately this will cut RM (CWU members) jobs, so I can’t see anyone but CWU fighting for either of us.

      The only other time I was a member of a toothless staff association/union like NFSP, at a time of hyper inflation 14%+ they would proudly “negotiate” an increase of 3%.

      All NFSP have delivered so far is cuts, not increases

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