The government plans to sell off Royal Mail, in what will be the largest privatisation since British Gas 26 years ago.
Labour MPs have branded the proposals “desperate”. The government hopes to raise £3 billion from the sale, with some Labour figures suggesting it is a quick-fix attempt to claw back some of a £245 billion overspend in government borrowing.
10% of Royal Mail shares will be distributed to employees. It is not clear whether they will be given the shares for free or have to pay. The rest may be sold off on the open share market or as a lump to a big company.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) which represents Royal Mail staff runs a “Save Our Royal Mail” campaign, and its April 2013 conference decided on a campaign to boycott Royal Mail’s private competitors.
However, socialists in CWU have warned against a “company-unionist” response to the attacks. Postal workers need a positive campaign for democratic public ownership under workers’ and service users’ control.
The government hopes to finalise the flotation of Royal Mail by April 2014. We have less than a year to organise a fightback.
Any campaign must include pressuring the Labour Party to explicitly oppose the move (rather than criticise detail) and commit to renationalising Royal Mail if the privatisation goes through and Labour is elected in 2015.