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Protests are planned across the UK on Saturday after the Post Office announced plans to franchise dozens more stores to retailer WH Smith while closing numerous others.

Today the Post Office said it was proposing “to franchise a further 74 directly managed branches to WH Smith,” alongside as the business warns it is “not immune” from the troubles facing the high street.

In response to the proposals the Communication Workers Union (CWU) is set to hold protests at 50 locations across the UK, supported by Labour politicians and local campaigners.

It argued that wages offered at franchises like WH Smith are lower than at dedicated Post Offices.

“The day of action is an ambitious one. We are holding dozens of events from Truro to Aberdeen, in every region of the United Kingdom, to engage with members of the public about this latest shameful round of planned closures,” CWU general secretary Dave Ward said.

“People are sick and tired of the broken privatisation agenda that is behind this latest move. We hope many will join our campaign to save our Post Offices.”

Post Office’s network & sales director Roger Gale responded saying: “The Post Office has over 11,500 branches across the UK. It will be business as usual in all our branches and we hope the CWU will ensure that there is no impact on customer service.

Related: WH Smith ventures into Hong Kong with new franchise

“The Post Office is committed to keeping its vital services on high streets and at the heart of communities across the UK. However, we are not immune to the challenges facing retailers in local high streets, and we must adapt to changing customer needs by making our services more accessible to customers, for instance through longer opening hours.

“That is why we are proposing to franchise a further 74 directly managed branches to WH Smith.

“The plan enables us to maintain branches in town and city centres in a way that’s financially sustainable, not just for today’s customers but tomorrow’s too. 98% of the Post Office network is run in this way, on an agency or franchise basis. It’s a model that works through delivering the benefits of shared overheads and footfall.”

Source: Retail Gazette

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