Postal staff pledge to fight the sell off

Paul Fenney
Paul Fenney

THE leader of Wigan’s postal workers union fears strike action after the Government confirmed it is pressing ahead with privatisation of the Royal Mail.

His warning came as the Communication Workers Union (CWU) wrote to Minister for Business Michael Fallon urging him to “think again” over the controversial £3bn programme and consider a new approach to secure the future of the company.

Wigan branch secretary Paul Fenney said that if ministers don’t reverse their threat to postal workers’ existing terms and conditions it will “inevitably” lead to industrial action.

In the letter to Mr Fallon, signed by the union’s general secretary Billy Hayes and deputy general secretary Dave Ward, the union calls on the government to consider alternative ways for the company to access capital and look at “more innovative business structures” that would align the interests of the company, customers and the workforce.

It cites the way that Network Rail has been kept in public ownership whilst being given the management structure to borrow on the open market.

Restating the union’s opposition to privatisation, the CWU leaders have called for a model that makes Royal Mail a ‘not-for-dividend’ organisation with profits re-invested into services.

CWU has also laid out a detailed model for how the company would operate with social, commercial and ethical responsibilities.

Mr Fenney accused the Government of allowing dogma to stand in the way of serious debate to create a positive future for the 500-year-old institution.

And he insisted that onobody outside of central government and business interests wants to see the postal service being sold off.

The public had consistently opposed the sale and recently 96 per cent of Royal Mail workers themselves had voted against it despite being offered £2,000 free shares.

Mr Fenney said: “The union is offering the government the opportunity to discuss how best to genuinely take Royal Mail forward.

“It’s time for the vested interests to be set aside and the Government to seize the chance to make the mail service work for its customers, the company and the workforce.”

Mr Fenney added that, like Royal Mail workers nationwide, Wigan members had co-operated with modernisation and “greatly contributed” to the success of the company.

Chief executive of Royal Mail Moya Greene is known to have held talks with scores of potential investors in recent months in an attempt to persuade them to back the highly controversial plans.

Supporters of the Government’s privatisation argue that the sell off would raise a windfall of hundreds of millions of pounds for the Exchequer which could then help to be used to modernise the mail system. It would also allow bosses to access private investment with greater ease.