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Royal Mail strike ‘likely’ next month
STRIKE action by postal workers across the borough is “likely” if Royal Mail is privatised, a union leader has warned.
Mick Hargreaves, responsible for the Communication Workers Union (CWU) in Bury, has reacted with anger to plans to sell off the business to stock market investors.
The union leader, who represents 500 workers in Bury and Bolton, said action could be taken by members as early as next month.
Postal workers could be offered up to £2,000 in shares if Royal Mail is sold — but Mr Hargreaves claims union members “are not the slightest bit interested”.
He said: “Royal Mail tried to implement a dummy share scheme a few years ago, and they ended up being practically worthless.
“What staff see as more important is job security, which will only happen if we can continue to provide a quality service to the public.
“The very sell-off could seriously endanger this endeavour as private investors will cherry-pick the best bits of the delivery business, while leaving the non-profitable parts for the remaining Royal Mail staff."
The Government says the sale is necessary to give Royal Mail the access to private capital it needs to grow and remain competitive.
Mr Hargreaves said the ballot timetable was currently being circulated among members, and was likely to take place before the end of September.
He added: “While our union is in negotiation with management over issues including pay and job security, we would be asking members to give us the right to take industrial action if necessary.
“If a strike occurred it would be within 28 days of this ballot result being known.”
Conservative MP for Bury North David Nuttall said the move was “good news” for employees and he “could not understand” why they were contemplating strike action.
He said: “I think the sale of shares in Royal Mail to members of the public and its staff is to be greatly welcomed.
“In the age of texting, emails and instant messaging, everyone realises Royal Mail must modernise and adapt to the changing world.
“Thanks to the tremendous dedication of Royal Mail employees, a lot of progress has already been made but there is still more to do.
“Operating in the private sector will mean Royal Mail no longer has to compete with schools and hospitals for the capital it needs.”
But Labour MP for Bury South Ivan Lewis condemned the Government’s proposals, saying they were not in the real long-term interests of the organisation.
He said: “The widespread opposition, not just from the unions but from groups as diverse as the Conservative Bow Group and the Countryside Alliance Demonstrate the short-sighted nature of the plan.
“Most commentators agree floating shares of Royal Mail and selling them on the cheap to private institutions is being done to plug the gap in the Government’s finances.
“I am genuinely concerned about the impact on services for consumers and the effect it will have on the hard-working Royal Mail staff in Bury.”
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