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Call to halt Royal Mail sell-off
The Government has come under fresh attack over its controversial plans to privatise the Royal Mail ahead of an expected announcement on the sell off.
Details of the next stage of the process are expected to be revealed as the National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) called on the Government to safeguard the future of thousands of post offices by halting the sale. The NFSP said a failure to protect post offices would amount to a "reckless gamble" with the future of the post office network.
General Secretary George Thomson said: "I am extremely disappointed and concerned that the Government is pressing ahead with a plan that will undoubtedly jeopardise the future of thousands of post offices.
"We simply have not had the promised new government work that needs to be delivered before the sale of Royal Mail and which would safeguard the future survival of an independent Post Office. We are now calling on the Government to halt the sale until we can be sure that new work is forthcoming. We are also urging ministers to retain a share in Royal Mail to ensure government has the ability to protect the interests of post offices and their customers, which are already under serious threat."
Nick Wells, chief executive of TNT Post, said: "Royal Mail needs access to capital for its modernisation plans and this is the route it has chosen. However, privatising a monopoly is bad for consumers, bad for business and bad for UK plc.
"Royal Mail should be open to the pressures of competition and no longer enjoy the Government gift of a 20% cost advantage over its competition. A level playing field of competition will allow better services to be developed and new jobs to be created."
The Communication Workers Union is holding a meeting of local officials, which is due to be addressed by Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene. The union is planning to ballot its members for strikes over pay, jobs and other issues linked to privatisation.
A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: "Royal Mail and the Post Office Limited were formally separated in 2012. For the past year the two companies have operated independently of each other... Royal Mail is honoured to provide the Universal Service to more than 29 million addresses across the UK. The Universal Service is enshrined in law through the Postal Services Act 2011. The six-days-a-week, one-price-goes-anywhere, affordable service can only be changed by both Houses of Parliament."
She added, on the issue of VAT: "VAT exemptions for core postal service delivery by Universal Service Obligation holders are in place in every EU country under the European Postal Service Directive... Royal Mail does not accept TNT's calls for the removal of the exemption. RM believes it is clear that the regulatory obligations placed on Royal Mail regarding its provision of access services meet the necessary European and UK legal requirements for exemption.
"Furthermore, the removal of the exemption from RM's access services would increase the postal costs of charities and other businesses which are unable to recover VAT. This would not only be to the detriment of those organisations but would also potentially drive business away from the postal market in general."