Employees set to receive shares worth £2,000 from privatisation
The government has today confirmed that it intends to float Royal Mail on the stock market “in the coming weeks”.
Under the planned privatisation, employees will be given 10 per cent of the available shares, with the rest made available to institutional investors and the general public.
The organisation’s 150,000 staff will each receive free shares – worth around £2,000 – and will be eligible to apply to buy additional shares under an employee priority offer.
But the stock market flotation is likely to be overshadowed by the result of an intended strike ballot by the Communication Workers Union which is expected on 3 October, with the earliest date for action likely to be 10 October.
The CWU plans to ballot 125,000 Royal Mail workers for strike action against the privatisation plans, changes to pensions, and pay.
The union rejected a three-year, 8.6 per cent pay offer in July because it claimed there were too many conditions attached. It us also concerned about the impact of privatisation on job security and workers’ terms and conditions.
The union has said it is looking to reach a “groundbreaking agreement” on terms and conditions where workers will be receive legally binding protection in the event of a sale. It also wants Royal Mail to put in place better infrastructure to help staff deal with more packets and parcels, to reward them properly and ensure their workload is manageable.
Billy Hayes, CWU’s general secretary, said: “We remain convinced that privatisation is the wrong decision for Royal Mail. It would be bad for customers, bad for staff and bad for the industry. Privatisation would put jobs and services at risk and lead to higher prices for customers.”
He added that privatisation would “destroy a centuries-old public service”.
Trade union umbrella body the TUC has also blasted the government’s plans, after delegates at its conference earlier this week passed a unanimous motion opposing the privatisation.
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, meanwhile, branded the move “a politically-motivated fire sale”.
If employees vote in favour of a walk out, it will be the first national postal strike since 2009. The Royal Mail no longer includes the Post Office services and retail business, and last year recorded revenue of more than £9.5 billion.
The privatisation process is expected to value the state-owned postal service at between £2.5 billion and £3 billion.