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14/07/2013 - Two-thirds of public oppose Royal Mail sell-off

Two-thirds of British adults oppose the privatisation of the Royal Mail, including 36% of Britons who "strongly oppose" it

Yesterday ConDem Business Secretary Vince Cable laid out the details of the sell-off of the Royal Mail, confirming that the postal service will be floated on the London Stock Exchange. Mr Cable also confirmed plans to give 10% of the shares in the newly privatised Royal Mail to postal service employees for free, while making the other 90% available for purchase by the public. YouGov can now reveal that the changes are opposed by a majority of the British public.

New YouGov research shows the privatisation of the Royal Mail is opposed by 67% of British adults, and supported by only 20%. Those who oppose the plans feel more strongly than those who oppose it: 36% of Britons "strongly oppose" privatisation, compared to only 4% who strongly support it.

Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP supporters oppose the sell-off by majorities of 78%-11%, 72%-17% and 76%-18%, respectively. Conservative voters are less opposed, but still tend to oppose the plans by 48%-40%. Additionally, while only 8% of Conservative voters “strongly support” the sell-off, 20% “strongly oppose” it; among Labour, those who “strongly oppose” outnumber those who "stongly support" it by a ratio of almost 25 to 1.

Yesterday Royal Mail was named as the second most improved brand for the first-half of 2013, according to YouGov BrandIndex, which tracks consumer perceptions.

The sell-off is opposed by campaigners and  unions, including the Communications Workers Union (CWU), of which a majority of Royal Mail workers are members. Solidarty which also has a small number of members working there is also strongly opposed to privatisation. Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, commented:

 

"Writing in the Observer Will Hutton made these predictions:


'It is a national disaster that another great British organisation, the Royal Mail, is to be cast into this maelstrom. (As I explain later, a more imaginative "protected" private model could work.) The directors of the Royal Mail will be under the same relentless hammer as those in every other British plc. They will put up prices as much as the regulator will allow, cut into universal provision and relentlessly contract out as much of the delivery to the lowest paid, least protected workers; none of this will be enough to satisfy their owners.

Eventually, the directors, vastly enriched with share options, incentive plans and 200% bonuses, will run up the white flag. Within a decade, the Royal Mail will be sold overseas, probably to another state-owned postal service, if not to a private equity fund based in a tax haven. Who knows? It could even be the Chinese communist party that ends up owning this great British institution.'


I think he is absolutely right. It seems like the public know the score too. The attempted bribe of 10 per cent shares will not lead to sny real worker involvement or engagement in the proposed company. Most will sell the shares quite quickly given the pressures on family finances.

 

Solidarity opposed in principle to taking key national assets away from State control. Nor do we think it works in practical terms - just look at the Railways as an example. Our members within Royal Mail should oppose the sell-off."