Royal Mail has asked the government to allow it to give postal workers a stake in the company.
The organisation has made a formal request to the Department of Trade and Industry to transfer up to 20% of Royal Mail shares to a trust account for employees.
The plan could see Royal Mail’s 165,000 staff given an equal amount of shares. But union leaders are concerned that the move would be a precursor to privatisation, which they oppose.
Chairman Allan Leighton believes that giving workers a stake in the business is vital to improve the performance of the company.
In a statement, the company said giving workers a stake would “reinforce their commitment to the challenges posed by competition” and “reward them for future success”.
Transferring shares would involve enacting new legislation and the government is thought to be reluctant to hand over such a big proportion of Royal Mail to staff.
The company has a huge pensions deficit that has been estimated at £4-6bn and has asked the government for a cash injection of £1bn to help it deal with this.