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Ferris attacks moves to liberalise postal service

13 January, 2011 - by Martin Ferris TD

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights, Martin Ferris TD strongly criticised legislation designed to liberalise the postal services. He was speaking during a debate today on a bill which will open up the sector to competition. Ferris claimed that the bill would open the door to privatisation and that the obligation on companies to provide a six day service would fall victim to profits.

Deputy Ferris said:

“The object of this Bill is to liberalise the postal services. That means in effect that its claim to protect the universal service obligation is not worth the paper that it is written on. Nor is the claim that the EU Directive will protect it forever.

“We need only look at what is happening in Britain at the moment when similar legislation to give effect to the EU directive was published, assurances were given that six day delivery and collection would be copper fastened.

“Now, as the Government there is preparing to privatise the Royal Mail it has emerged that the provision of services will all be dependent on profit margins. In effect that will mean that if a postal company can prove that it is losing money then it will be able to downgrade its services and only operate profitable ones.

“There are currently no plans to privatise An Post as a whole but this bill and the whole tenor of the EU liberalisation of postal and other public services will inevitably lead to not only the breaking up of the postal services but the cherry picking and selling off of its most profitable parts.

“It is clear that the privatisation of state assets is going to be part of the IMF/EU bailout for the banks. The review group on state assets, chaired by Colm McCarthy who has already made clear his support for privatisation, is due to be presented soon. It will be interesting to see what he recommends and in what way this Government and its successor acts on it.

“That report was supposed to be published before the end of last year but in a reply to a question from me yesterday Minister Lenihan said that the group is to engage in further consultations before it presents.

“In another reply Minister Lenihan told me that privatisation of state assets has been discussed as part of the bailout and that – to quote the Minister:

‘the Government will consult with the Commission on the results of this assessment with a view to setting appropriate targets for the possible privatisation of state-owned assets.’

“We need much harder guarantees that An Post will not be asset stripped and that the people of this state are not left with a poorer and more expensive service; that rural communities are not left in a situation where postal collection and deliveries do not take place six days a week.

“If such guarantees are not built into this bill by way of amendment then Sinn Féin will be voting against it. We will be doing so in order to protect the jobs of postal workers and the excellent service which An Post currently provides throughout this state.

“We will also be opposing it because we do not believe public companies that have been built over generations ought to be stripped down, torn apart and sold off to privateers. We certainly do not support the selling off of any state company in order to comply with the terms of the IMF/EU bailout for the failed bankers and speculators, some of whom no doubt will be joining the former Taoiseach in companies ready to move in for the kill if and when they are sold off.” ENDS

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