Defend the Royal Mail – Form a public sector alliance – Bring down the coalition with a general strike

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FOLLOWING the publication of the coalition’s Postal Services Bill, Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: ‘The government has wasted no time in flogging off the country’s state assets without exploring other options. . . . Handing postal services over to the City spivs and gamblers that Vince Cable recently denounced, but is now feeding, will be bad news for everyone.’

He correctly added that: ‘The separation of Royal Mail from the post office counters is a fatal step. The commercial imperative will be for a privatised Royal Mail to use retail services other than the Post Office.

‘A seven-year guarantee is a seven-year death sentence for local branches.’

In fact the government is setting no limit to the shareholding that a company can purchase in Royal Mail, save the 10 per cent that is to be sold to employees.

It is also proposing to end the state ownership of the Post Office, by handing ownership over to its staff, sub-postmasters, communities, and charities by the end of this parliament, alongside its plan to privatise Royal Mail.

Cable revealed that Co-operatives UK had been asked to explore options for creating a mutualised Post Office, reporting back to the government next Spring.

Sub-postmasters, mostly self-employed are no fools and are already seeking a guarantee that a privatised Royal Mail will continue to use the network, for fear of bankruptcy and mass closures following the privatisation.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, who published the Postal Services Bill, said there would be no objection to a foreign-owned privateer group buying the postal organisation.

The statements issued by the CWU leaders yesterday did not say a word about fighting the coalition’s privatisation drive, for the very good reason that their refusal to provide leadership in the past five years, and their betrayal of the strike movements, has brought the industry to the edge of the privatisation precipice.

The CWU leaders called off the 2009 Autumn strike actions and brought in, with the management, the National Agreement that brought the Union leaders together with Royal Mail to ‘modernise’ the industry.

This collaboration has resulted in schemes for mass closures of Mail Centres, as a preparation for privatisation, when the new owners will want to sack tens of thousands of workers, close down Mail Centres up and down the country, and bring in part-time and casual labourers, at slave labour rates of pay.

The decisive battle is therefore immediately ahead, and there is no parliamentary way out, since the last Labour government was the architect of the privatisation plan, and the Blairite fifth column in the Labour opposition will support the Tory-LibDem bill.

The CWU conference must be recalled and a resolution put down for indefinite strike action to fight the privatisation plan, and for the establishment of a public sector alliance to organise a general strike to bring down the coalition, and bring in a workers’ government. Leaders who do not agree with this policy should be made to resign.

This is the only way to defeat the bill.