Subpostmasters get raw deal in Post Office pay structure

A leak to the media suggests that the UK Post Office is proposing a new two-tier commission structure for main and branch Post Offices, with subpostmasters getting less for the same work as main Post Offices.

Under the new proposals, main branches will get 18% of the price of Special Delivery Parcels where branch Post Offices will get just 13%. For First Class parcels the remuneration will be 16% and 12% respectively. Second Class and ParcelForce will offer 13% to main Post Offices and 9% to Post Office branches.

The proposed deal comes as the Horizon scandal is being exposed, where hundreds of subpostmasters lost their livelihoods due to the Post Office’s over-reliance on the accounting system, leading to the biggest miscarriage of justice in British legal history.

Media outlet Better Retailing contacted the Post Office for comment but it refused. However, Mail product portfolio director Mark Siviter told the news outlet, “This new Mails Distribution Agreement will see postmaster remuneration for sales linked to the price of Royal Mail products and services and provides them with opportunities to maximise their remuneration.

“Mails makes up most of the remuneration that postmasters receive which is why we are providing every postmaster with detailed information as to how their branch or branches could be impacted by the new commercial structure. The vast majority will benefit and overall postmasters will receive an estimated additional £10 million worth of remuneration this year.”

“The new agreement enables the Post Office network to open up to other parcel carriers for the first time in our history and this will generate further, increased remuneration for postmasters.”

The National Federation of Subpostmasters (NFSP) said the proposed deal amounted to subpostmasters getting paid less for the same work as main Post Offices. It would however be working with its members to maximise their parcels income under the new pay structure.

CWU branch secretary and subpostmaster Mark Baker said: “We’re keeping an open mind and we’re yet to see what it looks like when applied to our own sales. It appears to have a strong focus on upselling, so the risk is that it incentivises subpostmasters to sell customers what they want to sell, not what the customer needs.”

Baker added: “The structure makes first class and specials really important, and it may be tough for those in non-affluent areas where cheapest will nearly always take precedent.”

The NFSP commented: “Over the last few months, the NFSP has engaged extensively with Post Office Ltd on the proposed remuneration approach. Our input has helped ensure that the overall outcome is positive for the network. 

“Our new Mails Support Team are here to help NFSP members take advantage of the opportunities to grow their income. This includes advice and guidance for subpostmasters and their staff on how to enhance mails sales and increase remuneration, as well as ongoing mails segregation support to take advantage of the revised targets. On current performance, hitting the targets for 1st and 2nd Parcel bags in addition to the Letter/Large Letter bag is highly achievable.”

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