The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has announced plans for the sell-off of Royal Mail today. Perhaps of most concern to many TameBay readers: the government has said it will “safeguard the future of the universal postal service at uniform prices and service levels” – in other words, it won’t suddenly cost more to send a packet to the Highlands than it does to London.
Up to 100% of Royal Mail will be sold, though the government has not yet said whether it will be floated on the stock market, or sold off to another postal carrier. Mr Cable has said that he sees no obstacle to RM being sold to an overseas operator such as the Dutch TNT Group or German Deutche Post: “We are not going on a nationalist jihad against foreign companies.”
10% of shares in the privatised Royal Mail will be given to employees. But privatisation plans will not include any consideration of safeguarding jobs, and the government has said it will not intervene if redundancies lead to industrial action against the new owners.
RM and the CWU currently have an agreement that there will be no compulsory redundancies, but any new owner is likely to want to cut costs by trimming back the 160,000-strong workforce. Billy Hayes, the CWU General Secretary, said: “Handing postal services over to the City spivs and gamblers that Vince Cable recently denounced, but is now feeding, will be bad news for everyone.”
The Post Office network is not to be included in privatisation, and the government has said it’s committed to keeping the current 11,500 Post Offices open. The network may be turned into a mutalised company, owned by sub postmasters.
Mr Cable said: “I want to start a conversation about how it is run in the future, but it seems to me that the Post Office is ideally suited to a John Lewis or Co-operative Group style structure – where employees, sub postmasters and communities get a greater say in how the company is run.”