It is no surprise that the Con-Dems are rushing the privatisation of Royal Mail through as quickly as they can. They face overwhelming opposition. 70% of people don't want to see the postal service in private hands. Price hikes to line the pockets of the super-rich - that's been the bitter lesson from the sell-off of rail, energy and water.
Privatisation would only mean job losses and a worsening of working conditions for postal workers. The 125,000 postal workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are expected to vote strongly in favour of strikeaction over pay and pensions in the ballot, whose result is due early in October.
Not everyone's opposed though. Big bankers, lawyers, accountants and PR firms will collect up to £20 million in fees from advising on the sale. But the public will pay higher prices and eventually lose services. Royal Mail will be at the beck and call of institutional investors wanting a return for their investment.
The £200 million Royal Mail said it could have paid out in dividends if it had been listed for a whole year, would be better spent on providing jobs and improving services.
Our union, the CWU will be supporting the NHS demo at the Tories' conference on 29 September in Manchester - this is very welcome. But the union leaders should also announce a national demo against Royal Mailprivatisation. This would give postal workers, other trade unionists and members of the public an opportunity to channel their deep anger over cuts and privatisation.
The CWU could link up with other unions considering action, such as PCS, NUT, FBU and the RMT to take strike action on the same day. The TUC must name the day for a 24-hour general strike. The collective strength of workers withholding their labour could bring this weak coalition to its knees.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes recently said: "We want Labour to commit the next Labour government to renationalise Royal Mail if it is privatised." That would scotch the sell-off plans. But this was wishful thinking - when in government Labour failed to renationalise the rail network or repeal the anti-union laws. In fact they tried to flog off Royal Mail. This is just further evidence of the need for a new mass party of the working class.
Royal Mail workers are confident we can win this battle. We need to fight to convince every CWU member of the strike's importance and involve them in the strike.
Regular mass meetings at local, regional and national level should make the decisions about the campaign.
Victory to the Royal Mail workers!
The Socialist calls for:
- No privatisation of Royal Mail
- If CWU members vote to strike, this must have the support of the entire trade union movement
- No to the use of the anti-trade union laws; scrap them!
- Defend all jobs and no to increased workloads
- Defend the union, defend the reps
- For a fully nationalised and democratically run communications industry
- Build a new mass workers' party to provide a fighting, political alternative to the pro-big business parties
- For a 24-hour general strike to oppose all privatisation and austerity measures