Price of privatisation: 1,600 jobs to go at Royal Mail

Tue, 25/03/2014 - 13:13 -- nick

The Royal Mail has announced it is cutting 1,600 jobs just five months after its privatisation.

Unions are considering strike action in response, with management positions facing the chop.

Brian Scott, Unite's officer for Royal Mail, said: "First the government sells off Royal Mail on the cheap and now the newly privatised service is ruthlessly sacrificing jobs.

"We do not believe that it's a coincidence that this announcement has been made just before the company prepares to announce its first full set of accounts since privatisation. It's more proof that Royal Mail's primary reason for existing is now about making profits rather than serving the nation."

The organisation was sold off in October last year, and critics at the time suggested that cuts would be likely as a way to improve profits, even at the expense of the services provided.

Frontline delivery and sorting staff are protected from the worst of the cuts due to the Communication Workers Union agreeing a protection deal at the time of privatisation.

The public has grown weary of public sell-offs, with Britons rejecting a default privatisation of services by ten to one according to a poll last year by We Own It, which was set up to promote a public ownership alternative.

In 2012 a PCS union survey found 62% wanted public services to be provided ‘mainly or only by government’, with just 5% supporting provision ‘mainly or only by private companies or charities’.

It is rare to find an issue on which the public is to the left of all major political parties, but public ownership and delivery of existing services is one.

With all parties in thrall to polls and focus groups this presents them with an opportunity to be populist and progressive at the same time.

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