POSTAL workers began balloting for strike action yesterday while the government, in a provocative move, chose the same day to announce they would float Royal Mail on the London Stock Exchange on October 15.
The Tory government’s Department for Business said on Friday that Royal Mail would be floated on the stock exchange valued between £2.6bn and £3.3bn; this means that it will be privatised before the results of the strike ballot are known.
The ballot closes on 16 October with the result announced on the same day.
The earliest a strike could legally take place is on 23 October.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: ‘The government continues to press ahead with the sale of the UK postal service despite consistent opposition from the public.
‘It seems remarkable that the prospectus is being issued on the same day that postal workers are being sent ballot papers for strike action.
‘Today’s announcement changes nothing in terms of the ballot which will go ahead as notified.
‘Royal Mail is profitable and can continue to be successful in the public sector. The sale is driven by political dogma, not economic necessity, and postal workers and the CWU will continue to fight to save services as well as defend their terms and conditions.’
Ballot papers went out yesterday to postal workers in Royal Mail and Parcelforce.
Rob Bolton, Delivery Unit rep at CWU South Central Number 1, told News Line: ‘Yesterday’s announcement that Royal Mail is to be floated on the stock exchange is an outright challenge to the CWU and the whole trade union movement.
‘By floating Royal Mail on the 15th of October, the government and Royal Mail hope that the CWU leadership will accept privatisation as a fait accompli and that the CWU will roll over and give up the fight against its members’ terms and conditions.
‘The CWU ballot for industrial action commences today, the timing of the announcement of the sell-off is designed to wrong-foot the CWU leadership; but the CWU members cannot accept the privatisation of Royal Mail and all the job losses and speed-ups that will accompany the sell-off.
‘The CWU must call a strike now, not wait until the announcement on the 16th October of the result of the ballot.
‘The only way to defeat the government and the Royal Mail management is to start the fight now or else what will happen is, by waiting for the result of the ballot, the CWU could find that legally it would be against the law to strike against any new employer.
‘That is why the CWU must call action straight away – to delay would be fatal.
‘We must call on all workers and trade unionists to support us against the government.
‘The CWU fights on behalf of all workers in Britain today.
‘The only way to defend jobs, pensions and terms of conditions of services is by the TUC calling an indefinite general strike.
‘That is what we need to do today.’
The TUC commented : ‘The privatisation of Royal Mail is something that we are strongly opposed to and we support any action that the CWU takes.
‘We are in full support of the CWU’s campaign against the privatisation of Royal Mail.’