The TUC in Blackpool: Post Office 'breaking rules' over sell-off

Click to follow
The Independent Online
TOP Post Office executives will be accused tomorrow of flouting their own code of business standards by using public funds to promote privatisation.

Leaders of the Union of Communication Workers will tell delegates that senior managers have spent pounds 2m on videos, briefings and meals for politicians in an attempt to push for a sell-off.

The Post Office's policy on ethics states: 'Funds and resources may not be used, directly or indirectly, for partisan purposes. These include party or campaign funds, or any improper attempts to influence a political decision.' The code of personal and business behaviour should be applied to all the organisation's dealings with 'customers, clients, suppliers, agents, competitors and colleagues'.

Alan Johnson, general secretary of the UCW, said that the Post Office had used all means at its disposal to press for the full privatisation of the Royal Mail and Parcel Force divisions, one of the options in a recent Green Paper. Michael Heron, chairman of the Post Office, and Bill Cockburn, the chief executive, were prominent in backing the policy, Mr Johnson said.

The option preferred by the Government is to sell off 51 per cent of the two companies. The union is campaigning for the whole of the Post Office to remain in the public sector, but to be given more commercial freedom.

The Post Office said yesterday that management had spent up to pounds 50,000 on publicising its view of the Green Paper. The main thrust of its campaign has been to emphasise the need for more freedom.

'It is pure fantasy to suggest that we have spent pounds 2m. We are duty bound nevertheless to offer our views on these developments. How could we not present our views, given the commercial pressures we are operating under. The Post Office has abided by its own code throughout.'

It claimed the union had spent about pounds 30,000 on promoting its view.