Crown Post Office workers strike over franchise plans
Staff in Wales have joined a strike over plans which they claim will downgrade several Crown Post Offices.
Union officials said changes at Llangefni and Holyhead threaten 16 jobs and would leave Anglesey without a Crown Post Office.
They claim the franchising scheme would also downgrade offices in Carmarthen, Morriston, Neath and Port Talbot.
The Post Office said it was seeking retail partners for eight Crown Offices in Wales but none of them would close.
It said it was committed to keeping High Street branches and maintaining services.
On Anglesey, campaigners protested outside Holyhead Crown Post Office while staff held a strike during morning opening times.
The Post Office said it had details of the impact of the strike from 11 out of its 20 Crown Post Offices branches in Wales.
A spokesman said nine were closed and two were able to open, including one of the proposed franchise locations.
He said its remaining 930 sub Post Office branches were unaffected by the action.
Communication Workers Union (CWU) representative Jenny Windsor said: "The Post Office plans would leave the isle of Anglesey without a Crown Office and would have a terrible impact on local towns.
"If the closure of these offices goes ahead the nearest Crown Office would be in Caernarfon.
Ms Windsor said local businesses were behind their campaign and had already started petitions.
"They would really suffer if these offices closed as the sub-post offices are located on the outskirts of town and are much harder to get to.
In south Wales, more than 50 Post Office staff are striking over plans to offer the Crown Post Offices in Carmarthen, Morriston, Neath and Port Talbot to a franchise partner.
Two Crown Post Offices in north east Wales - Rhyl and Holywell - are also included in the proposal.
The union says 17 Crown Post Offices will be affected by industrial action in Wales.
Gary Watkins, CWU regional secretary for Wales, said: "Franchising a Crown Post Office is not only a dumbing down of the services.
"If the franchisee then ceases trading as have many High Street retailers recently then the community looses its Post Office completely and there is evidence to suggest this can happen."
The Post Office said it was disappointed that the CWU had called the strike action over pay and "critical transformation plans" which it said it must deliver.
It said the action will only affect Crown branches, and 98% of 950 branches in Wales will be unaffected.
In a statement it said the union was refusing to accept the need for the Post Office to modernise its Crown network and bring it back into profit by March 2015.
The Post Office said for the eight Crown branches in Wales where it is looking for a retail partner, it costs between £1.54 (Morriston) and £2.12 (Llangefni) to generate every £1 of income.
Kevin Gilliland, network and sales director at the Post Office, said: "We are committed to keeping a Post Office branch on high streets and to maintaining the same levels of service for our customers.
"The best way for us to do this is to partner with a retailer, using an approach which has met with high customer satisfaction levels across the UK.
"This is not a closure plan - our aim is to find a suitable retailer from which the branch can operate. Any new branch would offer the same range of Post Office services."