EU driven Royal Mail privatisation not a sealed deal!
By John Millington – Campaigns reporter – Morning Star
(originally front page 14th January 2011)
Trade unionists refused to accept privatisation of the Royal Mail today after the Postal Services Bill was passed in Parliament.
Paving the way for privatisation and foreign capital ownership of Royal Mail assets, MPs in the House of Commons passed the Bill by 319 votes to 238.
But it will still need to be passed in the Lords to become law.
Under the government’s plan, private and potentially overseas buyers will be allowed to own up to 90 per cent of Royal Mail, with around 10 per cent of shares going to employees.
But with the dominance of private capital ownership of Royal Mail, any potential share holdings held by staff members will be practically worthless.
The business will be split up with the Post Office remaining under public ownership.
An amendment tabled by Conservative MP Brian Binley and Lib Dem Bob Russell which would have ensured that Royal Mail agree a 10-year deal with the Post Office to guarantee its custom was defeated by 58 votes.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said: “We’re very disappointed that MPs didn’t take the opportunity to safeguard Post Offices.
“However, six MPs did recognise the importance of amending the Bill to safeguard Post Offices and voted against the government.”
All Labour MPs voted against the Bill with four Tories, two Liberal Democrats and several nationalist MPs also opposing the Con-Dem plans.
Liberal Democrat whips were out in force with several MPs making statements against the Bill but voting with the government.
Despite the parliamentary setback, the CWU vowed to intensify its campaign, with a national demonstration on January 22 in Postal Affairs Minister Ed Davey’s constituency Kingston upon Thames.
CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward called for a mass mobilisation on January 22 and said: “This vote strengthens our determination to fight the government’s Bill.
“In its current form it threatens the ongoing modernisation of Royal Mail and will destabilise the progress made to date. It also threatens the jobs, terms and conditions of our members and we’ll do whatever it takes to fight against the damaging effects of privatisation.”
Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths pointed out that EU directives to liberalise European postal services were at the root of the policy of privatisation.
“As with gas, electricity, water and steel there will be mass redundancies together in the services followed soon afterwards by rampant profiteering and big price increases,” he said.
“This is a continuation of the EU agenda to break up public-sector monopolies in postal and other vital public services.
“Furthermore an inevitable consequence will be foreign ownership which will place the service even further beyond the control of democratically elected bodies.”
And Labour MP John McDonnell said the privatisation was the first of many to come.
He said: “Cameron’s latest threat to trade union rights also demonstrates the need for co-ordinated mobilisation of the labour and trade union movement.”