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Royal Mail sell-off ‘on horizon’

Royal Mail sell-off ‘on horizon’

The privatisation of the Royal Mail could begin in the next few months if workers accept a plan to give them a stake in the business, it has been reported.

The Daily Mail reports the Government is considering selling off all or part of the national postal service, and to sweeten the deal for its 170,000 employees they could be offered shares in the new-look company.

The plan could help improve efficiency at Royal Mail which has been under pressure following a reduction in the number of letters sent due to a switch to electronic mail. It is claimed it could mirror a similar set up at John Lewis, where staff are rewarded as the company improves its performance.

The coalition agreement published last month committed the Government to seeking "to ensure an injection of private capital into Royal Mail, including opportunities for employee ownership". The Post Office will be kept in public hands, said the document.

Plans to part-privatise the Royal Mail were ditched last year by Labour's Lord Mandelson after stiff opposition from unions and some of the party's MPs.

But it is thought that the prospect of owning part of the company they work for may persuade employees against taking strike action in opposition to a sell-off.

Postal affairs minister Ed Davey said it could also improve the performance of the company, which suffered financially from a decline in the volume of items posted and a massive pension fund deficit.