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21 March 2012
Responding to the announcement by the European Commission today (Wednesday) that it has ruled in favour of Royal Mail Group receiving State Aid and allowing the UK government to take on the Royal Mail pension scheme and deficit, the Communication Workers Union claims this as a success for the union's campaign and says it is “good news for postal workers”.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: "The lifting of the pensions deficit came from the CWU. We've been campaigning for the government to take on the pension deficit for years and the success of our campaign is a result of thousands of CWU activists and their work. People laughed in our faces when we suggested it so it's been a long journey getting here.
“Today's announcement will protect the pensions of postal workers who have faithfully paid contributions for decades. We've consistently argued that the government has a moral obligation to take on the pension deficit, partly as owner of the company and for allowing Royal Mail to take a 13 year contributions holiday.
“We remain strongly opposed to privatisation. Nationalising the debt and privatising the profit doesn't make sense. It's not in the interests of customers, workers or the taxpayer. Royal Mail is now £8.4bn better off and the case for privatisation weaker still.”
Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “Today's announcement is good news for postal workers. Without these changes the Royal Mail Pension Plan would be under major threat of closure and continue to destabilise the company's finances. The changes will help transform the finances of the company and protect jobs.
“CWU remains fundamentally opposed to privatisation, but we have always supported and campaigned for the need for a pension solution and changes to regulation.
“Without a pension solution the consequences for our members and the company would be very severe, including the strong possibility of the pension scheme being completely wound up. This would still remove a barrier to privatisation but without securing our members' pensions. Without this change it would be a lose-lose situation.”
The Royal Mail Pension Plan has a deficit of £8.4 billion. The transfer of assets will give the Treasury a short-term boost of £28bn but the lifetime costs will be far higher than the value of the assets. Royal Mail will continue to run a pension scheme which will be deficit-free at the point of transfer.