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A Fort William pensioner was left for two weeks without her pension after Post Office industrial action.
Ms Gillies, who gets her pension from the Post Office in Inverlochy, was left ‘flabbergasted’ after she failed to receive her pension both three days before Christmas and three days before New Year.
Her son Davis Gillies who lives in Dunfermline but was home for Christmas, contacted The Oban Times. He said: ‘My mum is mobile, but not fully. She can’t walk much and gets lifts to places.
‘I took her into the Post Office on the Thursday, three days before Christmas, and when we walked in the lady there said, “are you in to get your pension because we don’t have any pension money”. I thought she was joking, but she said they hadn’t been given any money from the crown Post Office for pensions because of the Post Office’s staff industrial action.
‘She offered to give my mum £50 out of their own money to keep her going.’
The following Thursday, three days before New Year, Mr Gillies returned to the Post Office with his mother expecting to pick up two weeks worth of her pension.
‘I was flabbergasted when the same thing happened and we were told there was still no money.
‘While family circumstances allow my mum to function for a while without pension, I’m aware that other pensioners might not have this comfort, relying totally on their weekly income to cover food, heat and other essentials.
‘I found the whole situation absolutely ridiculous,’ said Mr Gillies
Mr Gillies took his mother into Fort William’s main Post Office where she was given her two weeks worth of pension, and told that they did not know anything about the situation.
He added: ‘I was here so it was fine to take my mum into the town, but had she been on her own she would never have been able to go in to Fort William because she can’t get the bus.
‘I feel very angry this situation has been allowed to develop over Christmas and New Year, without suitable arrangements to protect the most vulnerable being put in place, and feel someone should be explaining why.
‘I also don’t claim to be an expert in industrial relations, or the reasons behind the Post Office workers action, but I think they should hang their heads in shame for not thinking more about the consequences and the people they’re affecting.’
Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: ‘Mrs Gillies contacted me during the week between Christmas and New Year to let me know that for two weeks in a row she had not been able to collect her full pension.
‘I was concerned this might not be an isolated incident, with other pensioners having difficulty accessing their pensions and the obvious repercussions for spending on food, heat and other things.
‘I contacted the Post Office, who assured me this was an isolated incident as they had emergency teams in place across the country.
‘They apologised profusely and promised to investigate why and how this had happened.
‘This is obviously a deeply unfortunate incident but I am relieved there have been no other incidents like this as far as I am aware and there was emergency cash in place.’
A Post Office spokesperson said: ‘Regrettably there was industrial action by some of our supply chain staff on December 22 and 23.
‘However, we had robust contingency plans in place to ensure that our network of 11,600 Post Office branches had sufficient cash and stock and these worked effectively.
‘We are sorry if this customer was inconvenienced and we will look into this but it appears to be an isolated case as the strike did not disrupt pension or other payments.’