Around the country there are 11,000 subpostmasters (SPMRs); mainly small independent businesses.
Until 2010, SPMRs received a small basic salary, topped up by extra payments for the work we did. Running a Post Office was never a way to get rich, but it did offer a regular income and did create an asset to sell on when you retired.
Over the last few years, this basic income has been largely phased out, leaving many SPMRs with businesses that do not even cover their costs, and are now effectively worthless. This policy of malign (definitely not benign) neglect leads to SPMR's being effectively starved out of the business that they bought and built up over the last 20 years.
The pay is now so bad that in over 750 cases, Post Offices have closed and NOBODY else will even take them on for FREE.
These offices are termed by Post Office Limited "temporarily closed" - even though many of them have been closed for years.
YES, we are still selling horse shoes in a motor age, but unlike blacksmiths we are prevented from turning our hands to other things because Post Office Limited (the Head Office honchos) dictate what we do, how we do it, when to do it, and how much they will pay us. They can also tell us what we CAN'T do; like offering competing services from anyone BUT Post Office.
Despite all this Post Office control, technically we are all self employed. Or are we self employed? Postmasters are preparing to test their employment status in the Courts in 2017.
Oh, and the real kicker is, the people that "negotiate" our terms and conditions with Post Office Limited, and what we get paid is a) a Private Limited company, NOT a Union and b) the vast bulk of their income, millions of pounds, comes from ....... Post Office Limited