Workers are decrying the demise of "one of the great inventions of our social history," after the British government announced on Monday that it was completing the privatization of the UK's state-run mail service by selling off its final 14 percent stake.
In a press statement, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills said that "current market conditions should allow a successful sale," and Guardian reporting indicated that banks are hopeful the shares would be sold for less than 5 percent discount on the Royal Mail’s share price.
Since the Royal Mail sell-off was first announced in 2013, it has been criticized by the country's leading trade unions as a deal where only "the rich get richer."
On Monday, the Communications Workers Union (CWU) issued a statement saying the privatization underscores the Tory party's commitment to austerity "ideology" over the interests of the British people.
"This fire sale nails the lie that the Tories stand up for the interests of ordinary people," said CWU general secretary Dave Ward. "By their actions today they have made it abundantly clear that they are only interested in privatization dogma and making the rich richer—even when their actions place public services at risk."
In June, the UK government sold half of its then-remaining stake, which at the time amounted to roughly 15 percent. Ward said that this final portion "should have been used to safeguard the public's voice in Royal Mail and ensure the continuation of daily deliveries to every address in the country."
"The Tories have instead chosen and ideological course that puts the fundamental ethos of a centuries old national institution in jeopardy," he added.
"Our party is committed to opposing austerity, committed to opposing the privatization of Royal Mail, committed to the public control of Royal Mail and other public services," he told a rally outside Manchester Cathedral. "We must demand immediately an end to the whole notion to the sale of the remaining 15 percent that is publicly owned—keep it public, keep it safe, keep it ours."