CWU Members Protest Plan to End Royal Mail Monopoly

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More than 3,000 Communication Workers Union members and other trade unionists, politicians, and members of the public marched through Central London Saturday to oppose a plan to end the Royal Mail monopoly on letter delivery.

Postcomm, the British postal regulator, wants to open the British postal system to competition by 2006. Consignia, the British postal service, and other organizations have until April 12 to submit comments on the proposal. Postcomm's decision document will be issued in May.

The commission proposes to open the whole market to competition in three phases, starting with bulk mail.

The CWU, which is composed of postal workers, said the proposal would destroy the postal service and lead to massive job losses.

"Postcomm has seriously overstepped the mark with its proposals," said CWU general secretary Billy Hayes. "If implemented, they would be nothing less than a dagger to the heart of the universal service."

The CWU is still considering a strike March 27. The union accuses Royal Mail and its parent, Consignia, of reneging on parts of a deal it agreed to that would have increased basic pay would rise 6.9 percent by April 2003.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament endorsed a proposal on March 13 to open up postal markets in Europe to increased competition, with hopes of improving postal services and reducing prices.

The proposal requires member states to open up a substantial section of the market to competition beginning in 2003. The text now goes to the Council of the Union, which is the European Union's main decision-making institution.

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