Royal Mail is set to be sold off after centuries of public ownership. The privatisation begins on Tuesday of next week when this vital public service “floats” on the stock exchange.
The final price was set to be revealed on Friday of this week—and it’s almost certainly going to be much less than the £4.5 billion Royal Mail is believed to be worth.
Just selling off two of Royal Mail’s key sites in central London for property developers could fetch £1.5 billion, yet the government says the whole operation is only worth £3.3 billion.
This is a classic gambit when selling off public services. It means the private companies pay less—and when the price inevitably rockets they can cash in, and argue that privatisation has been a big success.
Investors are already circling like vultures, with huge interest in the City. And no wonder—as undervaluation isn’t the Tories’ only giveaway to the bosses.
Royal Mail will pay no corporation tax for ten years after privatisation. City advisers are set to get their hands on £21.7 million in fees from the sale.
And Royal Mail boss Moya Greene, who took home £1.5 million last year, is on track for even more this year.
Postal workers are furious. The day after the sell-off will see the results of a strike vote against the bosses. Workers know that privatisation will bring more attacks on pay, pensions, jobs and contracts.
They face being reduced to the same rock bottom conditions as workers in the private companies that already try to undercut Royal Mail.
Some 115,000 postal workers are members of the CWU union, and all of them are covered by its ballot.
The prospect of a strike has fat cat Greene worried. She was so desperate with the ballot result looming that Royal Mail promised workers £300 each if no one went on strike.
But now the offer has been extended—to anyone prepared to cross picket lines.
“Workers just think it’s bribery,” said Oxford post worker Dave Fuller. “It’s ridiculous.”
The government is also trying to soften workers up with claims that they will benefit from a 10 percent stake in the company.
Postal workers who earn £19,000 a year will receive up to £2,000 in shares which they can’t sell for three years.
But the attacks that would follow privatisation would more than wipe out this windfall. Despite the bribes and the bullshit, workers aren’t fooled.
“We’re getting three or four letters a week now saying how great privatisation is, and why we should vote no in the strike ballot,” Dave told Socialist Worker. “It’s got to the level that we’re just ignoring them.”
Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, sent a response to members and workplaces slamming Moya Greene’s tactic—and urging workers to vote for a national strike.
“The latest letter from the Chief Executive of the Royal Mail Group is an act of desperation and discrimination,” he wrote. “The Chief Executive’s position is not sustainable.
“Your collective strength will be the decisive factor—vote yes.”