The Government will allocate at least 10% of Royal Mail shares to staff when it privatises the group, business secretary Vince Cable said today.
Speaking at the Liberal Democrat Party’s annual conference in Liverpool, Cable said that the coalition is planning to go ahead with privatisation of the state-owned company, but wanted employees to have more of a say in the running of the organisation.
“It will allocate at least 10% of the shares in Royal Mail to employees,” he told delegates. “This will be the largest employee shares scheme of any privatisation for 25 years in terms of the number of workers who will benefit – second only to the privatisation of BT in 1984.”
Cable’s intervention will be viewed in some circles as an olive branch to unions – who forced the Labour Government to back down from plans to part-privatise Royal Mail last year – but the Communication Workers Union (CWU) immediately described it as “patronising”.
“Any offer of shares to employees is deeply patronising for people who have invested their working lives in this public service,” said CWU general secretary Billy Hayes. “The British public currently owns 100% of Royal Mail and now 90% is to be sold off to the banks and financial institutions that have created Britain’s current financial crisis.”
The Government has not yet decided whether employees will be given shares or offered the chance to buy them at a discount.