The government has yesterday (Thursday) announced that it is pressing ahead with plans to privatise Royal Mail at the very same time that 125,000 postal workers are voting on strike action.
CWU says the plans to sell are a betrayal of the British public – 70% of whom are against privatisation according to a Sunday Times poll at the weekend.
The announcement this morning said an initial public offering (IPO) is “expected to take place in the coming weeks”.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: “This isn’t about what’s best for the Royal Mail, it’s about vested interests of government ministers’ mates in the City. Privatisation is the worst way to access to capital as it’s more expensive than borrowing under public ownership. There’s no competition with money for schools and hospitals as the government would have you believe – look at Network Rail which has borrowed billions on private markets at cheaper rates under an arrangement which doesn’t affect public debt. This is simply about dogma from old fashioned Tories wedded to privatisation.
“We remain convinced that privatisation is the wrong decision for Royal Mail. It would be bad for customers, bad for staff and bad for the industry. Privatisation would put jobs and services at risk and lead to higher prices for customers. We’ve seen it happen time and again in other industries.
“We’re taking this to Labour Party Conference and we want a commitment that a Labour government would renationalise Royal Mail if privatised. Privatisation is an old-fashioned idea and a breach of the public’s trust. It would destroy a centuries-old public service.”
Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “Today’s announcement gives us little new information. Everyone knew the government’s intention to float Royal Mail this financial year but we’re surprised they’ve chosen to start this process at the very time we are balloting our members for strike action. This could put investors off.
“We’re pressing ahead with our ballot 125,000 postal workers and we will continue to fight privatisation and the potential impact of a sale on jobs, terms and conditions. CWU is here for the long-haul. Any owner will have to deal with issues in the industry and take the workforce with them. “Investors should take note of public opinion too – 70% of the public are against privatisation according to the latest poll this weekend.”
The ballot will be the first national strike ballot since 2009. Ballot papers are due to go out to 125,000 Royal Mail and Parcelforce (but not Post Office) workers on 20 September with a result to be announced on 3 October. If there was a yes vote, the union would then be able to give 7 days’ notice for strike action, with the earliest strike action possible from 10 October.
Around 1,500 reps from across Royal Mail are meeting in the ICC in Birmingham today for a CWU-called meeting.