The much-hyped privatisation of Royal Mail has been dealt a potentially fatal blow after postal workers not only agreed to boycott final-mile deliveries but also came out in full opposition to the sell-off.
The results of the Communication Workers Union consultative ballot – distributed to 112,000 posties – show 96% oppose privatisation, 92% support a final mile delivery boycott, 92% support a policy of “non-cooperation”, while perhaps less surprisingly 99% support the CWU pay claim.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said: “No-one has yet asked postal workers what they think about privatisation. Today postal workers have spoken loud and clear with a massive 96% roundly rejecting the government’s plans to privatise Royal Mail. The workforce does not support the government or Royal Mail on selling the company. This company is flourishing in public ownership as the recent doubling of profits proves. It’s becoming less clear what this policy is about. Why privatise this profitable company? Today’s ballot result shows we have resounding support for all the union’s policies. This is a strong message to take forward action in each area to improve the working lives of postal workers and protect the services and jobs which customers and communities value.”
Any plans to implement a final-mile boycott – already branded “suicidal” – would be likely to be challenged in court by both Royal Mail and private operators as the company is contractually obliged to deliver other firms’ mail. But it is the vote for “non-cooperation” which could scupper deliveries, as much of posties’ work is carried out in overtime. It could also deal a blow to door-drop and leaflet deliveries.
The move follows reports that some institutional investors plan to steer well clear of the sell-off and will not plough money into the privatised Royal Mail because of its history of industrial strife.
According to The Times, City sources have confirmed that a minority of blue chip potential shareholders in an initial public offering of the Royal Mail have said “pass” when asked if they will invest in a flotation.
UPDATE: Royal Mail has acted swiftly to avert any potential final-mile boycott by going straight to the High Court today (Wednesday) to seek an injunction against the Communication Workers Union. A hearing was due to begin at 2pm. If successful, the CWU would be open to hefty fines and sequestration of assets if it pressed ahead with action.
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