Royal Mail shares scheme announced
Royal Mail workers will benefit from the biggest employee shares scheme of any privatisation for 25 years under Government plans to attract private capital to the postal industry, the Business Secretary has said.
Vince Cable said "mutual ownership" would be promoted, spreading worker ownership alongside private capital, with at least 10% of shares going to employees.
He told the Liberal Democrat annual conference in Liverpool: "I want to announce today that employees in Royal Mail will benefit from the largest employee shares scheme of any privatisation for 25 years.
"The Liberal Democrats were the first and only party to call for an employee stake and we are now implementing it in Government."
Mr Cable said the plans did not include the sale of the Royal Mail's Post Office business, adding: "There will be no programme of closures as there were under Labour."
A postal service bill is expected next month, setting out the coalition's plans to privatise the Royal Mail, which will be fiercely resisted by the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
In a briefing note published by the Liberal Democrats on Wednesday, the party said the recent report by Richard Hooper had highlighted that the Royal Mail was a company "on the brink".
"It faces a lethal combination of challenges from falling number of letters being sent to potentially one of the worst pension positions in UK corporate history," said the briefing.
"We do not believe there is a need for Government to keep a stake in Royal Mail in the long-term - but we will retain some flexibility so that we can negotiate the best possible outcome.
"The extent of private sector investment and the speed at which we begin to divest shares will depend on market conditions, getting best value for the taxpayer and securing a sustainable future for Royal Mail."