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Saturday, 16 March, 2002, 16:37 GMT
Thousands join post workers' march
Post workers march through Kennington
Around 3,000 marched against increased competition
Thousands of postal workers have joined a protest march against proposals to increase competition in the industry.

They fear plans to allow other companies to bid for parts of Consignia's business would mean thousands of job losses.

Customers were warned delivery services would be hit and stamp prices increased.

Postcomm has seriously overstepped the mark with its proposals

Billy Hayes

The march from Lambeth, south London, to Westminster halted traffic as around 3,000 members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) chanted slogans and blew whistles.

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said if the postal regulator Postcomm's proposals were accepted it would be "nothing less than a dagger to the heart of the universal service".

'Poorer service'

Mr Hayes said: "Postcomm has seriously overstepped the mark with its proposals."

Demonstrator Dave Ward added: "We have to defend the postal service.

"We cannot just open it up to competition and expect it to last.

"We want up-front commitment from the government."

Branch chairman for the South East London Counting and Sorting Office Barry Nelson, 45, said: "Opening the service to privatisation will mean the public get a poorer service and it will threaten our jobs and our livelihoods."

Giant monster

The CWU welcomed Postcomm's decision to delay its plans by at least a month to give people more time to respond.

But it warned increased competition would threaten the guarantee of delivery to all homes in the country and universal stamp prices.

Posting a letter
The CWU claims deliveries would be hit
The union said Postcomm was an "unelected quango" and handed out postcards and leaflets depicting it as a giant monster about to attack a Royal Mail van.

According to Postcomm traditional mail markets are changing because of new technologies such as e-mail.

It believes Consignia must embrace these developments and look for ways of providing with more choice and better value for money.

The commission proposes to open the whole market to competition in three phases, starting with bulk mail.

It says the current postal monopoly is not providing customers with the service they want and is failing to contain costs.

See also:

31 Jan 02 | Business
Competition shake-up for post
31 Jan 02 | Business
Q&A: The Post Office crisis
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