Privatisation of roads and Royal Mail

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The leadership of the postal workers union (CWU) delivered a treacherous blow to their members when they hailed the announcement that the government is to take over the Royal Mail pension scheme as a ‘major success’.

From next month the Royal Mail pension fund assets and liabilities will be transferred to the state, what this means is that the treasury will immediately gain the assets of the pension fund which amounts to a massive £28 billion.

This money, which is used to generate the funds needed to pay out pensions for postal workers, will go straight into the government’s coffers and be used to reduce the budget deficit.

At the same time the working class, through taxation, will now become liable for the shortfall in the pension scheme which amounts to a massive £37.5 billion.

This shortfall was in turn caused by previous Tory governments allowing Royal Mail to take a 13 year pensions ‘holiday’ in the past, the money saved  again went straight to the treasury.

Postal workers have, therefore, seen their pension fund being used both in the past and today as nothing more than a government piggy bank to be plundered at will in order to prop up the finances of a bankrupt capitalist economy.

At the same time as their pension fund is being plundered to help bail out bankrupt British capitalism, postal workers now face the immediate prospect of the privatisation and break-up of Royal Mail and the inevitable onslaught on jobs and wages that will follow.

The main obstacle to privatisation in the past has been the pension fund liability of Royal Mail towards its thousands of employees.

No privateer was prepared to take on responsibility for a pension fund with liabilities of £37.5 billion.

Now this liability has been transferred to the state, the privateers will be moving in with a vengeance to cream off the profitable parts of the mail service, while the government will allow the unprofitable parts to wither away and die.

In welcoming this move by the government to take over the Royal Mail pension fund, the leadership of the CWU are, in effect, welcoming the privatisation of the service and the theft of those funds by the state.

As for their argument that this move will mean the state now guarantees the pensions of postal workers it ignores the fact that the government is going all-out to cut pensions for public sector workers.

The only guarantee is that from now on CWU members will face increased attacks on their pension rights.

While, in words, the leadership of the CWU opposes privatisation of Royal Mail they have completely accepted it as ‘inevitable’ and are not prepared to lead any fight against it.

At the same time that the government was announcing the next step towards privatisation of the mail, Cameron revealed that he intends to sell off the roads.

This opens up the prospect of the entire road network being dominated by private companies who will make their money through leasing roads from the government and then charging motorists for every mile they travel on them through the use of tolls.

What is clear is that the coalition government is intent on privatising every single part of the welfare state and the public sector, from the NHS to the Royal Mail and now even the roads we are forced to drive on.

This attack on all the services and those who work within them can only be stopped by bringing down this government through a general strike and replaced by a workers government.

Those trade union leaders who refuse to lead this fight must be removed and replaced with a new leadership that is prepared to.