Union members within Royal Mail’s parcel carrier unit, Parcelforce, have expressed strong opposition to the group’s privatisation.
The Communication Workers Union said yesterday that 72% of its 3,500 Parcelforce members turned out to vote, with 93% of these against privatisation.
The consultative ballot, which did not ask whether staff were in favour of strike action, also found Parcelforce union members backing CWU grievances on pay and pension issues by respectively 96% and 95%.
Dave Ward, the CWU deputy general secretary, said: “Workers in Parcelforce have spoken loud and clear and added their voices to those of hundreds of thousands of others – they are against Royal Mail privatisation.”
The Parcelforce CWU vote comes as the UK government invited stockbrokers and share dealing services this week to participate in the planned sale of a majority stake in Royal Mail later this financial year.
Sale of Royal Mail shares on the London stock exchange is expected to be one of the largest privatizations in the UK for decades, valuing the organisation at between £2 billion and £3 billion.
Last week the Department for Business Innovation and Skills selected advertising agency Engine to work on promoting the forthcoming IPO.
The CWU is currently polling its Royal Mail members regarding the possibility of strike action to protest privatisation and the 8.6% pay deal currently on offer.
The union revealed yesterday the results of a YouGov poll of 1,779 people carried out last month that suggested 67% of the British public as a whole are opposed to postal privatisation, with 79% believing prices will rise as a result and 47% believing services will worsen.
Billy Hayes, the CWU general secretary, said the poll suggested that postal privatisation was “deep unpopular”.
He said: “There is no argument for privatising Royal Mail. Plenty of alternative models exist to address the concerns which government has raised – for example raising capital which could be done along the lines of Network Rail which doesn’t affect national debt. This government is obsessed with privatisation at any cost.”
Responding to the Parcelforce consultative ballot, Royal Mail said yesterday that it noted the results of the ballot, and stressed that the ballot was not a strike ballot, and would not affect Parcelforce services.
The company said talks were underway with the CWU regarding pay, with hopes of concluding a deal as soon as possible.
On privatisation, Royal Mail insisted that privatisation will “combine the best of the public and private sectors”. “Private ownership will enable Royal Mail Group to become more flexible and fleet of foot in the fiercely competitive markets in which we operate,” the firm said, echoing previous company statements on the issue.
The company also stressed the fact that Royal Mail employees will share a 10% stake in the company through an employee share programme.