On Thursday 4 February 2016 the Government unveiled the privatisation of its final stake in Royal Mail, bringing the curtain down on five centuries of state ownership.
Yes, Royal Mail celebrates 500 years this year of serving and connecting the social, commercial and industrial make up of our country, for most of those years it was totally complete in design offering Post Office counter services as well as collection and delivery.
It is amazing how the ideology of private ownership and free market competition, even in respect of natural monopolies, still dominates favorably in politics and the media despite the reality of worsening services, lack of investment and continuing price increases in privately owned public utilities.
So let's do a reality check - this privatisation was a 'fire sale' to help pay off national debt, the Government has made £3.3billion from the sales. They claim it helps the tax payer yet they sold it so fast and cheep that they arguable lost a potential further £3billion of tax payers' money. Circa £413million has already gone to share holders, yes some of which are employees, £413million that could have been re-invested into this excellent service that had been starved of investment by the very same people who now claim they have done such a wonderful thing. The Royal Mail used to be only famous for one robbery, the Great Train Robbery, now perhaps history will recall a second the great Royal Mail sell off swindle.
Make no mistake this powerful engine of civilisation, this most cherished national treasure is now under attack from profiteers. Royal Mail was split from the Post Office which remains publicly owned, deliberately engineered to reduce opposition to the privatisation of Royal Mail, and now the Government is running the Post Office into the ground and privatising via the backdoor by aggressively franchising out Crown Office services.
Many of the most successful Postal Operators in countries around the world have kept their postal counter and delivery operations together and have been proactive in revenue generation by offering banking services and imaginative logistic and delivery operations - not the UK but where the approach has nothing to do with service but rather offloading responsibility and making money.
Empty statements of conventional wisdom, from empty ideological brain washed minds would have you believe that this disgraceful dismantling of a 500 year invention, which is by the way still relevant despite the digital revolution, is improved by privatisation and that giving shares to employees will drive more company loyalty.
This is absolutely intellectually insulting rhetoric, you could not get a more dedicated workforce than Royal Mail, the history of postal workers is inundated with examples of their excellent vocational sense of service, the most recent examples of which is the lengths they have gone to during the recent terrible floods in the UK. Postal workers on many occasions have been the equivalent of another emergency service, up every street six days a week, the eyes and ears of the people they serve, alerting the support services and on many occasions assisting beyond the call of their own duty.
Make no mistake in listening to the sound bites, please don't join these empty suits who patronise decent people, postal workers have not been brought off by a hand full of gold, what they really value is their jobs, decent terms and conditions, employment and standard of living security, providing for their families and dignity in retirement having had a fulfilling working life in the service to all in the UK.
Please mark these words - employment standards, prices and the standard price delivery to every address in this country six days a week without discrimination will come under attack. Profit and share holder returns will not be balanced with decent employment standards and public service unless we are prepared to stand up for it.
The Communication Workers Union will always lead that stand.
Terry Pullinger is Deputy General Secretary (Postal) at the CWU