July 10 - Britain's government is giving an update on its plans to privatise the world's oldest postal service, including details of a stock market listing. But as Hayley Platt reports the Royal Mail proposals aren't going down well with workers or the public.
After years of losing money Royal Mail's fortunes have recently revived. But Britain's government is still planning to sell part of it off, for around £3 billion. It will be the biggest state privatisation for decades. Britain's Business Minister Vince Cable. SOUNDBITE: Britain's Business Minister, Vince Cable, saying (English): "They've got to have a lot more investment. This is the kind of thing that is now happening in Germany with Deutsche Post now a private mail company. And if they're going to invest heavily it's got to private capital because the government can't fund it." The Post Office network of branches, is a separate business and is not being sold off. Only Royal Mail, which delivers parcels and letters will be privatised. Postal expert David Stubbs says customers shouldn't be concerned. SOUNDBITE: David Stubbs, Postal Consultant, Trova Consulting, saying (English): "I don't think consumers will see big changes in their services in the immediate future but clearly a private Royal Mail over time may seek to be a little less generous than a state owned Royal Mail." Postal workers can expect to receive 10 percent of the shares, worth around £1,500 per person. But that doesn't mean they support the plan, unions were demonstrating in London. They say it's bad for business and have threatened to strike, fearing future cuts. SOUNDBITE: Dave Ward, Deputy General Secretary, Communication Workers Union, saying (English): "Everywhere across Europe where they've privatised companies you end with the privatised company under private control doing two things, one they lobby for a down dialing of service standards and two they do not deliver to the areas of the country that are unprofitable." The Royal Mail is the world's oldest postal service, dating back to King Henry VIII. It's been slow to modernise and has haemorrhaged money. But last year its annual profits more than doubled thanks to a boom in online shopping. Parcel deliveries rose 9 percent and now account for almost half of Royal Mail's revenue. The privatisation is expected to take place later this year.