Plan to sell Royal Mail ‘dangerous’

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Labour has launched a campaign against the Government’s controversial plan to privatise the Royal Mail, branding the move “dangerous”.

The party leadership is throwing its weight behind growing opposition to the sell-off.

Royal Mail managers this week voted strongly against privatisation, while the Communication Workers’ Union is threatening to ballot its members for a strike unless there is a deal on pay, pensions, jobs and other issues linked to the sell-off.

Labour MPs will stress that the public and businesses rely on a daily delivery service and will warn that places where it is expensive or complicated to deliver the post every day – like rural areas or blocks of flats – could be “vulnerable” if privatisation goes ahead.

The party is also warning that many customers might have to travel miles to pick up large parcels as a privatised Royal Mail could choose to sell off its assets such as local delivery offices.

A Labour source said: “We all rely on the Royal Mail – from receiving that parcel we’ve ordered online to knowing that birthday card we’ve sent is going to arrive in time – but some of us rely on it in different ways.

“In rural areas the local post office acts as a focal point for communities and there are many 
pensioners across the country who are reassured by seeing their regular postie every morning. There are also the small businesses that use the Royal Mail for 
ensuring customers get their goods and services on time, efficiently, reliably and at a reasonable price.

“Which is why the Tory-led Government’s plans for privatising Royal Mail are so dangerous.

“Like so many of this Government’s plans, these haven’t been thought through properly. They want to sell off Royal Mail on the cheap in order to plug a financial hole in the British economy caused by George Osborne’s failed policies as Chancellor.”

Labour believes privatisation could have “enormous consequences” for those who rely on the postal service and accuses 
the Government of being unwilling or unable to say what they will be.

Privatising Royal Mail could mean that profit comes before the needs of communities, Labour warned.

Local post offices rely on the Royal Mail for much of their business and many of them could be under threat if privatisation goes ahead as they look to slash costs, while organisations up and down the country have warned of higher prices and a lesser service, Labour said.

The source added: “David Cameron doesn’t need to do this. The Royal Mail made a £400m profit last year but there’s a real risk that this money will go to private shareholders instead of being invested back into the service.”

A Department for Business spokesman said: “This cynical scaremongering will not succeed in stopping our plans to ensure Royal Mail can thrive and deliver a better service to consumers and business. Regardless of ownership, Royal Mail will still be the UK’s designated universal service provider and will continue to provide deliveries to all UK addresses – rural and urban – six days a week, only Parliament can change this.

“Royal Mail is one of Britain’s biggest companies but it also needs future access to private capital to be able to continue its modernisation programme and to seize opportunities for growth such as the boom in online shopping.

“That is why we are pursuing a sale of Royal Mail shares this financial year. Parliament decided two years ago that this was the right approach; it would be hard to say we have rushed the process.

“The Post Office is not for sale and there will be no programme of closures under this Government.”