Socialist Worker

The Great Post Robbery has begun as bankers snap up Royal Mail shares

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2374

A CWU protester at the London Stock Exchange

A CWU protester at the London Stock Exchange (Pic: Stu Curlett)

The great Royal Mail robbery began today, Friday, as trading began for the postal service after centuries of public ownership.

But as City fat cats arrived at the London Stock Exchange they were met with a protest by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents post workers in Royal Mail.

“Don’t think we’re going away—no matter who the prospective owners are,” CWU senior deputy general secretary Tony Kearns told Socialist Worker.

Postal workers are currently voting in a ballot for strikes over attacks on their pay, pensions and conditions.

News arrived that the share price had already shot up 38 percent from the initial valuation, adding £1.2 billion to the value of Royal Mail shares.


It underlined how drastically the post had been undervalued—a classic tactic when selling off public services.

It means the private investors cash in while the public lose out, and the headlines make it sound like privatisation has been a great success.

Despite commentators’ talk of shares being snapped up by “ordinary” investors, two thirds of the stock was allocated to big City firms.

And even applying for the minimum amount of shares cost £750—not an amount that ordinary people tend to have lying around.

The Tories have also announced a temporary cut in trading fees for people who sell their shares early while demand is high. 


This is targeted at small investors, so that even more of the shares can end up in the bankers’ hands.

Friday marked the start of conditional dealing for the postal service, with Royal Mail due to officially “float” on the stock exchange on Tuesday. The CWU ballot result is set to be announced the following day.

“Against all the press, politicians and Royal Mail management telling them it’s over, members are fighting to return a massive yes vote,” said Tony. “My take on it from talking to branches and members is that we are going to get an overwhelming yes vote.”

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes told Socialist Worker, “We’re absolutely convinced we’ll get a big yes vote. Is it all over? Not for us it’s not. We exist to fight for our members regardless of the owners.”

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