Socialist Worker

As rich snap up Royal Mail shares, post workers get ready for strikes

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2375

Union officials address a mass meeting of postal workers at Londons Mount Pleasant Mail Centre on Tuesday of this week

Union officials address a mass meeting of postal workers at London's Mount Pleasant Mail Centre on Tuesday of this week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The great Royal Mail robbery has begun, as bankers trade and deal shares for the postal service after centuries of public ownership.

City fat cats started dealing the Royal Mail shares they grabbed on Tuesday of this week as the Tories rushed to sell off the post.

However postal workers are currently voting in a ballot for a national strike over attacks on their pay, pensions and conditions. It would be the biggest strike of post workers in four years. 

The result is set to be announced on Wednesday of this week, a day after dealing started.

The “float” of Royal Mail on the stock market began on Friday of last week.

Fat cats arriving at the London Stock Exchange on Friday morning were met with a protest by the post workers’ CWU union.

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

On Friday shares closed at 38 percent higher from the initial starting price. This added £1.2 billion to the value of Royal Mail.

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

Cash

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.

 Many commentators spoke of shares being snapped up by “ordinary” investors. But in reality two thirds of the stock was allocated to big City firms. 

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. Some 1.2 million people sold their shares.

“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. 

 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.”

The union has said it will announce its intentions within a week of the ballot result. It won’t be good enough to just look to secure an agreement. Workers are angry and want to fight. 

A national strike can hit back at the Tories and the rich bankers who are profiting from the Royal Mail sell-off.


Post workers rally for battle

As Royal Mail shares started trading, up to 500 postal workers at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre in London took part in a mass gate meeting.

It took place on Tuesday—the day before the result of a national strike ballot was due.

CWU union deputy general secretary Dave Ward addressed the workers in a car park opposite the centre. 

He said he understood why workers were “sickened” by the quick sell-off of the post, as fat cats rushed to cream off profits.

“People who scramble around for money are to reap the benefits out of your hard work,” he told workers.

There were cheers as Ward attacked Royal Mail boss Moya Greene’s plan to divide the union by offering workers £300 to scab on any strike. 

He said, “When we announce the ballot result tomorrow, the game changes massively.”


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Article information

News
Tue 15 Oct 2013, 18:10 BST
Issue No. 2375
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