Socialist Worker

Privatisation and bosses are harming the post

Issue No. 2065

Postal workers’ strike

Postal workers’ strike

Royal mail management are still refusing to release the company’s full financial accounts – which would reveal the extent of the bonuses paid to company bosses.

This is despite the fact that four days of strikes by members of the postal workers’ CWU union have forced them into negotiations over pay and attacks to the postal service.

However, bosses have released what are known as the regulatory accounts.

While not complying with all the disclosure rules required for audited accounts, they do show that privatisation is harming Royal Mail.

Royal Mail slipped into the red for the first time in six years on its first and second class and bulk business mail, incurring an operating loss of £12 million last year. This followed profits of £197 million in 2005-6.

Royal Mail’s operating costs were up £181 million to £5.97 billion, despite axing 6,300 jobs.

Royal Mail’s accounts also show that it made a profit of £27 million on those services covered by its universal service obligation – that is, those parts not privatised.

Royal Mail delivered 2.4 billion items for rival firms following the introduction of private competition in what is called “downstream access”.

Private companies tender for business contracts and collect the mail but do not sort it or deliver it.

Royal Mail is paid 13p per letter out of the 18p average delivery price for each letter.

For every letter delivered for TNT and other private mail companies, Royal Mail loses 2p. The CWU said that £43 million of the fall in the company’s profits were the “direct result of downstream access”.

And while contracts to deliver letters for other operators accounted for about 12 percent of Royal Mail’s deliveries, the private companies delivered only 0.2 percent of mail themselves.

Earlier this month the union called off rolling strike action, which had been called in protest at the 2.5 percent pay offer and performance bonus scheme, and agreed to talks with Royal Mail.

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