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CWU slam “politically motivated privatisation”

The Communication Workers Union today condemned plans announced today to privatise Royal Mail and vowed to fight the politically motivated move by all means. It described Royal Mail as “successful and modernising” and added “privatisation is unpopular and politically motivated-  to get hands on pension cash“.

The full CWU statement was as follows:

A YouGov poll last month found a majority of voters of every party oppose privatising Royal Mail with support at only 15 per cent. At the same time, Royal Mail is a market leader and the company’s profits rose by 26 per cent to £404 million in 2010. A fully funded modernisation programme agreed by both management and unions is in place bringing stability to the company. Royal Mail’s pension scheme assets total around £26 billion.

Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: “Privatisation is old politics. It’s the failed politics of history which brought disruption to Britain’s utilities and railways and astronomical prices for consumers. Dangerously in this case, we fear the government may also be plotting to seize the pension assets.

“Privatisation would be devastating for Royal Mail and the whole country’s postal services. The universal service has been a key part of the UK post for 170 years but because it isn’t the profitable element of mail, the privatisation will put it at risk. This could damage the service for all customers including millions of small business and potentially harm the UK economy. Privatisation will also mean separation of Royal Mail and the post office network, putting the very existence of many more post offices that play such a key role in Britain’s communities at risk.

“Closures, cuts and profit will rule while customers, small businesses, communities and tax payers lose out. This report is politically motivated to please the ideology of the coalition. People who work in the industry know that privatisation has no positive role in this public service. Richard Hooper’s report of 2008 was flawed and his vision was proved to be unachievable. He still doesn’t have the answers to the challenges facing the postal service but faithfully trots out what his political masters request.

“Royal Mail has always been a privatisation too far and there is a public majority out there who will vote this government out for flogging off our national assets and breaking our public services.”

Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “Everyone’s a loser if you privatise the Royal Mail. Jobs and services will suffer and customers will see prices soar.

“We’ve put in place a detailed and fully funded modernisation programme which is dramatically transforming Royal Mail. Why does the government want to threaten the stability and capital of this programme when it’s proving a major success?

“We fear the pensions of our members will be at risk under privatisation. Everyone hears about the deficit, but there’s over £26 billion in assets which belongs to the postmen and women who have paid their contributions every week of their working lives. We will never let the government get its hands on that money for anything other than what it’s intended – to pay for the retirement of hard-working postal workers.

“Postal workers have invested in the modernisation of the service by fully supporting the business transformation agreement signed earlier this year. The company and its employees are working hard to transform the business together. Rather than reverse the progress, the government needs to show the same support for this key public service.”

Read the full report here.

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