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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 June 2009

Royal Mail sell-off: time for action!

Communication Workers Union lobby of parliament over the privatisation of Royal Mail Feb 09, photo Paul Mattsson

Communication Workers Union lobby of parliament over the privatisation of Royal Mail Feb 09, photo Paul Mattsson

The Postal Services Bill has its first reading in the House of Commons on 9 June and the privateer sharks are circling. The latest to join the pack are CVC Partners, a private equity group. These privateers will spell disaster for the postal services and postal workers.

A Bristol postal worker

150 Labour MPs have signed a motion opposing the sell-off. This means Gordon Brown has to rely on the support of the Conservatives to get the bill through.

Peter Mandelson, the business secretary pushing for the sale of a 30% stake in Royal Mail, claims the sell-off will shake up the management and bring in fresh investment. But what's fresh about the stench of private equity outfits like CVC?

These firms are usually known for the management of asset-stripping in the pursuit of fast profit. What kind of postal service will be left for the public? Certainly not the present daily universal service to every home and business in the land.

Regardless of what Brown, Mandelson and the like claim, the reality is that Royal Mail is a profitable service. Despite the recession, Royal Mail has reported a yearly profit of 321 million. Their overall revenue is up 9.6 billion and all four core Royal Mail businesses show a profit for the first time in two decades.

During the same period the privately owned mail companies being courted by Mandelson all recorded losses. TNT saw its profits fall by 57% and Deutsche Post saw an annual loss of just under two billion euros.

The postal workers' pension deficit, being used by Mandelson as one of the reasons for the sell-off, is only in deficit as a result of decisions of the previous Tory government and the present Labour government.

It is they who took Royal Mail on a pension holiday, when for 13 years no money was paid into the pension fund.

Of course the postal workers who have to suffer the consequences carried on paying into it. Also, despite all the profit made from making postal workers work ever harder and longer, 181,000 are rewarded with a pay freeze.

It is now time for the CWU, the postal workers' union to tell Labour enough is enough. It's high time for CWU leader, Billy Hayes to replace his rhetoric with action.

CWU members are already under siege with the prospect of thousands of job losses, casualisation of full time work and worsening conditions. Now is the time for a ballot for strike action to fight the sell-off and a ballot on severing the union's political fund from the Labour Party.

  • Postal workers in London have voted by 9:1 to strike over cuts to jobs and services. Dates for action have not yet been announced.
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    In The Socialist 5 June 2009:

    Action to defend union rights

    Visteon pensioners battle on

    Vauxhall jobs threat - unions must organise a fightback


    Workplace news and analysis

    Royal Mail sell-off - Time for action!

    Fast news

    Tube workers vote to strike

    Bristol refuse workers strike

    Battling against the blacklist

    Glasgow care workers' success


    Socialist Party election campaign

    Prepare now for next election challenge

    European elections: Putting forward a workers' alternative

    A Question Time carve up

    Challenge these disgraced MPs

    A Parliament of celebrities and a speaker of integrity


    Youth

    Aston University socialists fight for student democracy

    Sussex University: Save Linguistics campaign

    Socialist youth conference and protest

    Youth Fight for Jobs: Fortnight of action 27 June to 10 July


    Socialist Party feature

    NATO anniversary: 60 years of aggression and terror


    Socialist Party review

    The Frock-Coated Communist: the revolutionary life of Friedrich Engels


    Marxist analysis: history

    Tiananmen Square 1989: Counter-revolution crushes China's democracy movement


     

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