Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/582/7390
Royal Mail sell-off: time for action!
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.
In The Socialist 5 June 2009:
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review
Marxist analysis: history