Royal Mail privatisation: Government selling the family silver

With the Royal Mail privatisation bill set to receive royal assent in coming weeks, job cuts show Royal Mail are already under pressure to attract a buyer.

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Jack Dromey MP (Labour, Birmingham Erdington) is the shadow minister for communities and local government

Yesterday’s papers were full of stories that Royal Mail are planning to cut its workforce by a quarter – yet another massive reduction in staff in one of our key public services.

With this Tory- led government driving through plans to sell off the company, it is clear that the proposed scale of job losses is the result of a government that wants to see our postal service downgraded and privatised – no matter the effects on the service.

With a bill paving the way for the privatisation of Royal Mail set to receive royal assent in the coming weeks, these fresh stories of job cuts show that Moya Greene and the Royal Mail management are coming under intense political pressure to slim the company down to make it attractive to a buyer to aid the government’s privatisation agenda – not for the benefit of the public.

Political meddling with the operational side of Royal Mail could be disastrous for our mail service. While privatisation may be a win for a government hell bent on selling off the family silver, we all lose if Royal Mail isn’t fit for purpose.

Providing an essential public service, Royal Mail is Britain’s second largest employer and has already made huge cuts to its workforce as part of a modernisation process. These number 60,000 since 2002 and reductions continue as part of a business transformation plan agreed in 2009.

The universal service obligation – the raison d’etre of Royal Mail – is to deliver to every UK address six days a week but extreme cuts to staff will mean it won’t be able to function in the way it has done for a century and more.

These new stories of job losses to attract investors come at a very difficult time for our postal service. Many elements of the Postal Services Bill constitute a very real threat to the level of service the public and many businesses have come to rely upon and pose grave risks of price hikes, service deterioration and post office closures.

Scaremongering about job losses -to entice potential buyers, no matter the effects on the workforce – is a very callous way to bring about a sell off but is indicative of the way this government is going about privatising a service that so many people rely upon.

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