Last month Royal Mail’s share price tumbled amid a surprise profit warning, wiping off some 30% in share value.
It has been reported that the company intends to “look at all the levers” that it could pull to rebuild profits, including potentially raising the price of stamps and cutting jobs. This will undoubtedly cause worry and uncertainty for the company’s 141,000 employees. It will also worry those for whom a rise in price of stamps could inhibit their ability to send letters and parcels.
At the same time, the new boss of Royal Mail, will receive a £100,000 pay rise from his predecessor Moya Greene who raked in a whopping £1.9million pay and perks package just for 2017 alone. Over £700million has been paid out in dividend to private shareholders since the privatisation of the company in 2013.
This all comes within five years since the Tory-led coalition privatised the company, a historic mistake that has cost the taxpayer £1billion from the outset.
The Labour Party was against privatisation then and remain so now. We said it would be used as a cash cow for shareholders at the expense of consumers and workers – and we have seen this prediction unfold.
Five years on the serious consequences of privatisation of this great institution are being felt more than ever by costumers, workers and the public at large whilst shareholders bag unprecedented bonuses.
The aggressive stream lining of the company has seen more than 12,000 Royal Mail jobs lost and many of its mail centres and delivery offices closed- with more set to be announced.
Indeed, the company had planned to slash workers’ pensions by up to 50%, but a tough battle with the Communication Workers Union forced them to accept a new deal on pensions which would protect workers.
Putting profit before costumers and pushing through cuts has watered down this world class service. The Royal Mail, as the sole UK universal services provider, is bound by law to ensure that the service is available to everybody across the country. However, new data shows a 51% rise in consumer complaints about disappearing parcels. On top of this planned cuts to its investigation department could put our parcels at an even greater risk from thieves and ID fraudsters.
This theme is extended beyond just the Royal Mail into a wide-ranging trend replicated across other privatised essential industries such as the water industry, energy and the railways.
This is symptomatic of life under Tory Britain – where profits and wealth are transferred from the many to the few with little or no democratic accountability for the decisions business make.
But we know it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Labour Party is determined to ensure better services, better pay and conditions for workers and profits reinvested back into these essential services.
This is why we have committed to renationalising the Royal Mail at the earliest opportunity to the benefit of consumers and workers, not the few shareholders. The benefits will be vast and will include lower prices, better service and greater democratic accountability of the decisions taken.
For the many, not the few.
Gill Furniss is the Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, and Shadow Minister for Postal Services