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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 May 2010

Royal Mail not for sale

The CWU protest February 2009 against Post Office privatisation, photo Paul Mattsson

The CWU protest February 2009 against Post Office privatisation, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

DELEGATES TO the Communication Workers Union (CWU) conference have voted unanimously to fight the government's privatisation plans for the Royal Mail service, with a "broad-based public campaign". The emergency motion, moved by the union's leadership, called for "all actions necessary" to keep Royal Mail as a public-owned postal service.

Gary Clark, Assistant Branch Secretary, Scotland No.2 CWU

After the election of the Con-Dem government coalition many postal workers believed that privatisation would be back on the agenda, but most believed that it would be at least six months away.

But after only one week in office, the government announced that the Queens speech would include a commitment to bring private finance into Royal Mail, in other words the privatisation of our industry.

This comes only months after a Communication Workers Union-led campaign defeated New Labour on the question of selling off 30% of Royal Mail.

Royal Mail not for sale

The timing of this announcement - only days before the CWU national conference - makes it clear we are heading for a battle with the new government.

It's a declaration of war on postal workers and the CWU, and an indication of how they view the trade union movement.

This pro-privatisation policy must be resisted by all means necessary from the CWU and the whole trade union movement.

The government has not stated how much they plan to sell off but be it 1% or 100% the part-privatisation or the eventual wholesale privatisation of Royal Mail is unacceptable to the workforce and a majority of the public.

The government claims that Royal Mail needs investment as the company is on its knees. But Royal Mail has just returned overall profits of £404 million - up by £83 million on last year, a year that included a major national dispute.

Recently the union voted for a new 'modernisation' agreement that was negotiated with Royal Mail management following our last dispute with them.

The danger is that this is a way for Royal Mail to raise money, at the expense of postal workers' pay and conditions.

Now, the threatened privatisation is one of the first attacks by the new government on the trade union movement and the CWU is determined that it will be rebuffed.

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