Subpostmasters may be forced to take industrial action if a proposed pay cut goes ahead, their representatives have warned.

Speaking at the National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) annual conference last week, NFSP executive officer Ian Park said that members were prepared to consider industrial action in order to overturn the cuts. A NFSP spokesman later said that it hoped to maintain dialogue with the Post Office and that this was just one of the options it was considering, but that it would not rule out action.

According to the NFSP, base pay will fall by £10m in 2010/11 and, coupled with rises in inflation, will mean that subpostmasters' income levels in real terms will drop by more than £20m. General secretary George Thomson said that up to 3,000 branches could be forced to close as a result.

Michael Wordingham, who runs Exeter Road Post Office in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, said that any action that would inconvenience customers would be his very last resort if the pay cut went ahead. "It could lose me customers as they'd find other ways to do their transactions, and they would be very difficult to win back afterwards," he said.

Last week the new coalition government said it was keen to see post offices offer "a wide range of services".

Thomson said he hoped the new government would think "Post Office first" when it came to awarding new contracts and renewing existing ones.

"I will be seeking to establish a positive relationship with the new government to generate the new products and services that are absolutely essential if the network is to survive," he said.