Staff 'could get Royal Mail stake'
Legislation to privatise the Royal Mail could come as early as this autumn and could give postal workers a stake in the company in a John Lewis-style partnership, it has been reported.
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.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, ministers are considering selling off as much as 100% of the Royal Mail or selling it off in stages.
Under the plan, a chunk of shares could be held in a trust to the benefit of its 170,000 staff.
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 operates the delivery of letters and suffered financially from a decline in the volume of items posted and a massive pension fund deficit.
Mr Davey told the Mail: "Employee share ownership can be critical in turning round a company's fortunes. With great British companies and organisations like John Lewis already involved, it shows how powerful it can be."
John Lewis, which operates not only a famous group of department stores but also Waitrose supermarkets and several other companies, has an unusual structure in which all 70,000 permanent staff are partners, sharing in the benefits and profits of the business.