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Royal Mail sale: Time to stand up to the unions

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So Cameron and Cable are committed to go where even Maggie feared to tred, to tackle the selling off of Royal Mail. Cable has confirmed that it will be floated on the stock exchange within the year. 

Protesters call it an attempt to end a “cherished” British institution. This is ludicrous. The local post office, perhaps, with its service within communities did indeed make up part of the British Institution but this is no longer part of Royal Mail. 

Those who bewail the red pillar boxes are quick enough to call an end to other British institutions and traditions if it suits them. It may well have existed since Henry VIII, but then so did hunting. You cannot argue pro-institution for institutions sake without effectively curtailing the development of mankind.

One of the arguments used is the scaremongering that by selling, there will be a loss of the guaranteed universal service obligation of delivery six days a week for the same cost anywhere in Britain. But this is enshrined in law, and any new owner would still have to abide by this, so we can chuck that particular argument right out of the window.   

What we are, in reality, looking at is an all-out fight to see if unions do or do not dictate what happens in this country still. 

In what promises to be the most contentious sell off since British Rail, the unions have already announced that they “aren’t going to let it be sold”. Their intended policy is to create so much industrial unrest and action that any potential buyer will be frightened off.

This brings us to the key question of who should control businesses. Should it be unions – with no regard to economics and total regard for power – or should it be business owners who aim for profit and good service – and, in the most cases, well rewarded and stable workforces for both moral and business reasons.

We are told that there are fears of a buyer being ruthless in cost cutting – businesses have to be efficient. We are told postal workers want security – so do we all. 

The world economy currently does not offer this. However, we improve our chances by concentrating on delivering the best value and the best service. All of our businesses have suffered from seeing the colossal increases in postal charges – from 46p to 60p for first class. We used to have our post collected from our offices – charges appromately £450.00 a year till this year we would have been charged £900. What other businesses are attempting such increases?

We did our annual mail shot recently – approximately 7,000 envelopes. I was told by one postman that the local post office was complaining about the extra work it caused them.  The mind boggles. God forbid they should be expected to deliver some service for their extra charges.

All that said, it is difficult not to be sympathetic with any employee when the fat cats at the top are so increasingly obscenely obese. Rumour has it that chief exec Moya Greene received a rise of £500,000 on her £1.6m salary last year. This offends every moral fibre I have and I am with those who protest that these beyond-wild amounts should be dealt with.

But there is a serious war about to happen, with serious implications for many of us who run ordinary British businesses today.   

If we were to see the unions win back their power and dictate what happens with Royal Mail, it would be a clear signal of restoration of pre-Maggie times, when business owners were at the total mercy of union bullying.  

We saw what happened to the country then. It must not be allowed to happen again. 

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