Mail staff vote for rivals' boycott

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Royal Mail workers have voted in favour of boycotting competitors' mail and have massively rejected the Government's controversial plan to privatise the company.

A ballot of 112,000 delivery, sorting office and other postal staff by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) showed that 96% opposed the planned sell-off of Royal Mail. More than nine out of 10 said they backed a boycott of mail handled by rival companies amid union fears that jobs will be hit by "unfair" competition.
The ballot, which had a turnout of 74%, also returned huge votes in favour of the union's claim for an above-inflation pay rise, and a policy of non co-operation against the "relentless pursuit" of performance demands.

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said: "No-one has yet asked postal workers what they think about privatisation. Today postal workers have spoken loud and clear with a massive 96% roundly rejecting the Government's plans to privatise Royal Mail. The workforce does not support the Government or Royal Mail on selling the company.
"This company is flourishing in public ownership, as the recent doubling of profits proves. It's becoming less clear what this policy is about. Why privatise this profitable company? Today's ballot result shows we have resounding support for all the union's policies. This is a strong message to take forward action in each area to improve the working lives of postal workers and protect the services and jobs which customers and communities value."

CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: "This ballot result is a damning rejection of the tired old Government privatisation policy and the actions of the Royal Mail board in support of this. Postal workers have worked incredibly hard to turn the fortunes of the company around. Royal Mail is not a financial basket case and they know privatisation is only benefiting vested interests.

"Postal workers are not going to sacrifice their souls for a so-called 10% stake when they know their jobs, pensions and conditions are once again under threat. The Government and Royal Mail have completely alienated the workforce and it's time for serious negotiations to find a solution that really can align the interests of workers, customers and the company. If not, then prolonged industrial conflict is inevitable.

"On a mail boycott, Royal Mail workers have shown they understand the threat to the universal service from unfair competition and the race to the bottom on their own terms and conditions. The way competition is being introduced does not benefit customers, small businesses or postal workers in whatever company they work for."

Royal Mail said it was committed to seeking an agreement with the union on the way forward that equipped the business for the future and was fair to employees, adding in a statement: "Royal Mail operates in a very competitive market and customers can move their business very quickly. This could result in a significant loss of business.

"Royal Mail is required by law to allow access to our network and deliver all the mail we are asked to. Royal Mail is fully committed to the delivery of all of the mail entrusted to us. We have consistently made clear we will take all appropriate steps to prevent any disruption of this. All our employees must continue to handle all mail, deliver to the same high service standards as normal and do the job that they are paid to do, as stated in their contracts of employment."

© 2013 Press Association
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