Royal Mail: Action needed to stop privatisation

Peter Mandelson’s plans to sell off 30% of Royal Mail and allow for up to 49.9% to be privatised, are facing mass opposition. A recent poll carried out by the Communication Workers Union shows 75% of the public oppose privatisation.

Peter Mandelson’s plans to sell off 30% of Royal Mail and allow for up to 49.9% to be privatised, are facing mass opposition. A recent poll carried out by the Communication Workers Union shows 75% of the public oppose privatisation.

Yet this government is determined to push it through. Proving once again the capitalist nature of New Labour, the government has ushered in private companies to take over our postal service. Since December, the global logistics company, TNT, has expressed interest in cherry picking over 30% of the postal service.

This company has already used the anti-worker EU Directives to undermined national minimum wage agreements for postal workers in Germany and has cut over one thousand jobs worldwide. Mandelson has also tried to intimidate workers into accepting privatisation by threatening that pensions will be halved if the service isn’t sold. Yet the £9 billion pension deficit is a result of successive government’s failure to contribute to the pension fund, not the failure of postal workers.

The Socialist Party stands for full investment in our postal services and for Royal Mail to be run democratically by postal workers, elected representatives from the trade unions and those representing the wider interests of customers.

Postal workers and the general public however cannot rely on a backbench revolt to defeat this creeping privatisation. The government can rely on Tory and Liberal Democrats to push through this Bill and the majority of Labour MP’s who have expressed opposition are doing so for there own opportunist reasons. Most are not opposed to privatisation on principle. The CWU sponsored Peter Hain for example had no problem trying to privatise the water service in Northern Ireland. A campaign of industrial action from the CWU linked to community support can defeat Mandelson’s plans.

At the same time the CWU should stop funding the Labour Party. The CWU gives £1 million a year to the Labour Party, which has only led to further undermining of jobs and conditions. Last December, the CWU handed over £53,000 of members money, only days before the publication of the government report that recommended part-privatisation. The leadership of the CWU must keep its conference pledge to break the link with Labour, if they do not rule out privatisation. Instead, the political fund would be better spent in supporting the formation of a new working class party which stood up for workers as strongly as the Tories, Lib Dems and the Labour Party does for big business.

By Kevin Henry, April 2009
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