By Paddy Meehan, CWU activist (personal capacity)
The Tory/Lib-Dem government has wasted no time in moving to privatise Royal Mail through registering the company on the stock exchange and inviting “investors” to purchase shares. If the privatisation goes ahead, it will lead to services being cut especially in rural areas, a major reduction in jobs, and attacks on wages, terms and condition of Royal Mail workers.
Both the CEO of Royal Mail and the government are adamant that Royal Mail’s future requires a massive investment to “modernise”. The reality is Royal Mail can borrow now and based on companies of similar size it could borrow at a cheaper rate than as a floated company. But this government of millionaires are not interested in keeping Royal Mail as a public service. They only see the major profits which could be going to their big business friends. The pre-floatation preparations demonstrate this already. Goldman Sachs and UBS -some of the key architects of the world economic crisis – have been called in to float the company and two pools of loans have been made available via the government in total of £1.4 billion to “assist” the company in the first year. Already it has been announced £133million will be paid out in dividends by the end of the financial year – a 6% return.
Co-ordinate mass strike action is urgent
The Communication Workers Union – the main union representing postal workers, is receiving overwhelming support for strike action. This is coupled with a recent opinion poll in the Sunday Times saying 70% of people oppose the flotation, a clear demonstration that there is huge public opposition to privatisation.
It is urgent a determined and militant fight be launched to stop the sell-off. The government claim Royal Mail will be listed on the stock exchange within a few months. Mass strike action of postal workers should also be co-ordinated where possible with other workers taking action against the Tories austerity campaign, such as fire fighters, health workers and teachers. The fight to save Royal Mail cannot be based on waiting for a Labour government being elected. The Labour Party’s entire upper echelons are clearly hostile to the demands of the trade union movement. There can be no trust in Ed Miliband and the Labour Party to reverse privatisation. They spent 13 years in power and kept every anti-trade union laws intact despite constant calls for them to be scrapped and enthusiastically privatised public services.
Royal Mail is a money generating service. Why hand it over to the Goldman Sachs’ of this world when there is supposedly no money for public services? Royal Mail must be kept as an entirely publicly-owned service run democratically by the workforce, elected public representatives and representatives from the wider workers movement.