No Post Office Sell-Off

THE EUROPEAN Commission are proposing to end the postal monopoly for mail weighing more than 50 grams from the year 2003.

Peter Redfarn

Jobs are already under threat from previous “liberalisation”. Royal Mail International has responded to the removal of the monopoly on international mail with a plan to concentrate it all in one centre at Langley, near Slough. They hope to recruit new staff, rather than transferring workers from where the work has previously been done, in Mount Pleasant in central London, Reading, Dover and elsewhere.

The principle of providing a universal service regardless of distance established 140 years ago as the Penny Post, is threatened. The Post Office Service Bill, and the regulator which it establishes, protect it for the time being, but private couriers and foreign postal authorities will be able to pick the most profitable areas, so putting Royal Mail at a disadvantage. CWU leader Derek Hodgson estimates a loss of 50,000 jobs. Already Royal Mail are planning to centralise Address Interpretation in one location instead of around 100 centres.

The Post Office, while pretending to oppose loss of the monopoly, has been buying up companies in like German Parcel and companies in Sweden and Holland.

The union leadership is prepared to accept loss of the monopoly. They just want it to come about more slowly. Unwilling to put up a fight, they like to rubber-stamp the employer’s proposals. The “Way Forward” deal threatens jobs, conditions and pay.

The Saturday Premium – extra pay for Saturday working — has been abolished, and pay restructuring allows considerable increases in unsocial hours without any increase in pay. Higher grades will be replaced by cut-price new entrants. This is no way for the union to defend its members.

We need to unionise the non-union distribution and courier firms. And instead of company unions collaborating with the employers, let’s build an alliance of postal workers across Europe to protect jobs and services.

The Socialist says:

§ No to Post Office privatisation. Stop the profiteers ransacking the industry.
§ Fight to rebuild the postal and post office services as a unified public service.
§ For a £5 an hour minimum wage for all postal workers as a step towards a £7 an hour or £280 a week minimum, based on the European decency threshold.
§ No to casualisation, for all part-time workers to be on the same pay scales and conditions as full-time workers.
§ For a trade union campaign to reunify the whole communications industry under democratic workers’ control and management.