Written evidence submitted by Mr. Bharat P Visani (POH0018)
My statement to BEIS committee hearing as NFSP representative at various levels of the organization.
My name is Mr Bharat P Visani.
I currently hold the position of Non-Executive Director of the Midlands Region within the NFSP Board since 2015.
I became a Sub postmaster in 2006 and joined the NFSP straight away, as it was the Union that represented SPMs.I attended NFSP Branch meetings regularly at Branch level and Regional levels.
I took an active part in meetings and became a committee member, then was elected as assistant Branch Secretary and then was elected as a Branch Secretary for the Leicester Branch.
This position involved helping SPMs in the Leicestershire area, taking calls from members, often visiting members and organizing meetings and attending Regional meetings and annual conferences.
We prepared Motions for Annual Conference to better our terms and conditions and relationship with PO both in respect of commercial deals and pay and with operational issues as well.
This was to support our members from the feedback we got from members at meetings and on a one to one meetings and discussions.
As a Branch Secretary I had to represent or accompany members to disciplinary hearings with contracts managers from PO.
I also had to accompany members during Audits being carried out by Auditors at a PO.I would liaise with our Executive Officer and seek advice and guidance before attending meetings in support of a member. There was no formal training as such for this role; however, there was a Branch Secretary’s manual and a lot of support at the end of the phone from senior and more experienced colleagues.
In 2015 after the Network Transformation our Executive Officer left as she decided to leave the Network and I was asked by the Midlands Regional Committee to put myself forward to represent the Midlands Region, as there was no one else wanting to take this responsibility.
After a lot of consideration I decided to take on this onerous and demanding position as our Region would have been left without representation at the National level.
My current role requires me to attend National quarterly meetings held by the NFSP to update us on negotiations with PO and get our input of views of our members from Branches and Region. I would represent our members’ views and concerns at Board level and help formulate policies and decision making with the best interest of our members in mind.
Then I would attend Branch and Regional meetings to update our members on various ongoing dialogues with PO.
In supporting our members I would normally get a call from the member directly or a referral from Head Office for support.
This can range from just basic operational issues to more serious matters where a contractual meeting has been arranged. Sometimes it would be an early intervention meeting where the member needs help to resolve an issue.
So the kind of help required by our members would broadly fall into the following categories:
Contractual- breach of terms ranging from shortages, thefts, opening hours, failure to declare cash and stock properly and accurately.
Accompanying the SPMs to a meeting following an incident such as robbery, break in, injury and losses incurred and if correct security procedures were followed.
Staff thefts of cash or stock and review procedures followed and what control measures were in place.
Deal with internal and external fraud activities that come to light and support members.
Family breakdown and subsequent impact on their PO.
Support required for Ben Fund applications for those SPMs who find themselves in financial distress.
There was a wide ranging level of support given to members on a regular basis sometimes formal and a lot of informal advice in helping members to operate their businesses as efficiently and profitably as possible. We would arrange for our NFSP Retail teams to visit SPMs who requested help with their retail side of the business.
Non- Executive Director for the Midlands Region