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Image: © Ian Burt via Flickr

Royal Mail staff say their bosses are cheating them out of money

Some Royal Mail workers think their bosses deliberately made their shares drop in value to screw them over.

What it means: Royal Mail was privatised in 2015, which means the UK government decided it didn’t want to own it anymore and sold it off. (Their logic was that it was costing the government too much money to maintain, and private companies, being more business-savvy, would do a better job. Lots of people disagree with that analysis.)

They did this through a stock market flotation, which is the financial market version of posting something on Craigslist/Gumtree. Basically, ownership of the company is split up into lots of little bits, called shares, which anybody is allowed to buy. Shareholders get a bit of the company’s profits (and sometimes voting rights about big stuff!). The government gave a bunch of these shares to the Royal Mail’s staff, as a sort of goodwill gesture (96 percent of them voted against the privatisation).

Shares can be sold. How much you can sell them for depends on the company’s share price, which goes up and down depending on how well everyone reckons the company is doing. The Royal Mail’s share price has just gone way down (by 28 percent) because its bosses have made a statement saying business is a bit crap at the moment so they’re not going to make much profit (so it’s not a great time to own their shares).

This announcement is a pretty normal thing to do - private companies are expected to tell everyone how their business is going. But it came just two weeks before Royal Mail staff were allowed to sell their shares without paying tax on them. So some staff think the company has deliberately cheated them out of money. They say they could have got an extra £2,500 if they’d sold their shares in May, when the share price was at its highest level since privatisation.

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