Kensington and Chelsea Labour Opposition Group has launched a Borough-wide campaign to oppose the government’s plans to privatise Royal Mail and to further downsize the Post Office network that is likely to mean the virtual end of national postal deliveries, reduced and erratic deliveries, increased letter and parcel charges, more lost and wrongly-delivered mail, and a more casual, untrained and low-paid workforce.
27 August 2013
Labour councillors and activists today joined the picket line with strikers from the OCS contractors who provide cleaning services to all the Council’s housing estates. Unlike other contract staff, these cleaners not only earn much less than the London Living Wage (£7.18 per hour rather than £8.55 per hour) but have had their pay frozen for the coming year, while other contract staff will get an increase of 3%.
Such low pay makes it impossible for workers to live in London and bring up their families without recourse to welfare top-ups, such as Housing Benefit. OCS shareholders have long enjoyed healthy dividends from the efforts of these dedicated low paid workers and the company can well afford to pay a decent living wage. Instead, shareholders enjoy a subsidy from every income tax payer (including OCS cleaners) whose hard earned money provides the welfare benefits that top up low pay and deliver huge company profits.
Labour Group Leader Cllr. Judith Blakeman said “It is disgraceful that the Council and the TMO, unlike even the Mayor of London, do not require all their contractors to pay the London Living Wage to their workers, many of whom have served them loyally for a very long time”. Cllr. Pat Mason, Labour’s trade union liaison officer, added: “it is not a matter of residents having to pay higher service charges for cleaning. OCS shareholders should take their fair share of cuts in these times of austerity and top managers should stop expecting the tax payer to subsidise their bonuses”.
Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors in Kensington and Chelsea have consistently refused Labour demands that all the Council’s contract staff be paid the London Living Wage. While most of the Council’s contractors do pay it, Labour councillors expect a fair and consistent approach to all workers delivering services to Borough residents and urge OCS to get back to the negotiating table.
The Communication Workers Union has said that breaking up Royal Mail and the further reorganisation of the Post Office will lead to the loss of many experienced local postal workers, the eventual foreign ownership of Royal Mail, and the closure of many local sub Post Offices that RBKC Labour Councillors believe will disadvantage residents and businessif this happens in Kensington and Chelsea.
-Has launched a “No to Privatisation Of Royal Mail & Post Office Closures” Petition.
-Will organise petition signings and protest events outside Borough Post Offices and in shopping areas during the summer and autumn.
-We will meet with Royal Mail, the Post Office, Government Ministers and the Council to put the local case against privatisation and PO downsizing.
-We will hold meetings with residents, the Council, postal staff, Post Office managers and others to hear their views on the government’s plans.
Supporters of the campaign include former Labour Postmaster General, Tony Benn, the Communications Workers Union, and Labour GLA Assembly Member, Murad Qureshi.
Cllr Pat Mason said, “Residents and business have already experienced what the service could look like if Royal Mail is privatised because they’ve complained loudly for over a year that TNT private mail company has been dumping or wrongly-delivering letters in the Borough with credit cards, benefit payments and doctors and hospital appointments. We don’t want Royal Mail turned into a ramshackle service by the same sorts of people who once said that privatising our gas and electricity supplies would give us cheaper power and now we are all being fleeced”.
For further details, Contact: Cllr Pat Mason: 07805 922 239