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Labour Market Realities: Privatisation and Royal Mail


This month’s labour market statistics represent a break from the supposed post-Brexit boom that we've been hearing so much about. As the number of economically inactive people has increased, the number of both employed and unemployed people has reduced.

While this may seem counter-intuitive, recent research from Sheffield Hallam University reinforces this point. The true number of unemployed people in the UK is significantly higher when accounting for certain segments of the economically inactive.

As Kevin Carey points out in the video above, new Royal Mail recruits are often employed on a part-time contract. This trend is representative of the wider economy: 29,000 fewer full-time vacancies and more part-time workers saying they would like full-time employment. This is coupled with below-inflation pay increases for the seventh month in a row.

Royal Mail’s privatisation is also likely to exacerbate the issues facing workers. We know from other public sectors that privatisation has led to increased stress and work-related ill-health, while the role of trade unions is often highlighted as a crucial component in maintaining working standards and avoiding a ‘race to the bottom’. 

Almost 90% of postal workers represented by the CWU recently voted in favour of industrial action over pay, pensions and other issues. These developments will be key as workers, both in Royal Mail in this instance and more broadly, search for security in an ever-precarious economy.