Socialist Worker

Government announces post privatisation—we need a fightback

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2223

Vince Cable, minister for big business, yesterday launched plans to sell-off Royal Mail and help line the pockets of private sector logistics firms.

The government wants to either privatise the public service by floating shares on the stockmarket, or hand up to 90 percent of the company directly to a private firm.

Either way, the result will be a stepping up of the job losses and asset stripping currently ravaging Royal Mail workers. It will also mean a catastrophic decline in service to the public.

Meanwhile, the bosses at the firm are licking their lips at the prospect of running a private company.

Moya Greene, Royal Mail’s chief executive could barely contain her delight at the announcement, saying, “Deregulation of the postal services market is long overdue… the shackles of regulation should be rapidly removed.”

The “shackles” Greene is referring to are the few regulations that force Royal Mail to provide a public service—and the postal workers’ CWU union, which stands up for its members’ rights.

Already bosses are threatening scores of mail centres with closure, and land and buildings in city centres are being hived off to developers. The result is a company that is increasingly “cash rich” and a prime target for hedge funds and speculators.

The national CWU’s anti-privatisation strategy rests on persuading Tory and Lib Dem MPs in marginal seats to vote against the sell off out of fear that they will not be reelected at the next general election.

But, so far, few coalition MPs show signs of trepidation.

The only way to instil panic in them is mount a campaign of protests and strikes that can unite postal workers with the public that overwhelmingly support them.

Workers from Stevenage mail centre have decided to meet the threat to close their office with a demonstration on Saturday 30 October.

Meanwhile, workers from the giant Bow Locks mail centre in east London announced plans for a major campaign to defend their office from closure.

John Ayres, CWU area distribution rep said, “During a time of financial austerity this decision to close Bow Locks makes no business sense at all.

“The truth is this decision is geared for a full sell off of Royal Mail to private profiteers, placing profit before service.”

He is right. The national union must throw its weight behind every fight to defend jobs and services. The best way to do this is to launch a national campaign that engages the wider public, raises the confidence of postal workers, pressures MPs, and builds towards strikes.

Save Stevenage mail centre demo. Assemble 12.30pm, Saturday 30 October, Stevenage mail centre, London Road, SG1 1AA

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Thu 14 Oct 2010, 12:41 BST
Issue No. 2223
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