Chuka Umunna: 'Not too late to pull plug on Royal Mail sell-off'
SELLING shares in Royal Mail at an undercut price could leave the Government further in debt, warn union leaders in Gloucestershire.
Accusations have been made by the Labour party that the treasury is being deprived of millions of pounds by selling the company off cheaply.
Labour's Chuka Umunna has urged the Government to pull the plug on privatising Royal Mail to prevent a "massive bonanza" for city speculators.
The Shadow Business Secretary reiterated his concerns that many Royal Mail property assets are in prime locations and could be sold, resulting in a windfall for investors and leaving taxpayers short-changed.
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The prospectus highlights sites in London at Mount Pleasant and Nine Elms as being "surplus", with reports saying they are worth between £500million and £1billion each, according to Labour.
Now, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) Gloucestershire branch, has spoken about its sell-off fears.
A spokesman said: "A lot of the Royal Mail's properties are in prime locations and they [Royal Mail] still own a lot of them.
"They are talking about selling the company for £2-3billion, but it is worth far more than that.
"Shares will be bought up, but investors usually move on after a couple of years leaving a lot of debt."
Mr Umunna refused to support or condemn potential industrial action by postal workers linked to the controversial sale of the business, which the Government says will be valued at up to £3.3billion.
He told Sky News there was a huge coalition of opposition to the Government's plans to sell-off shares in the organisation.
Mr Umunna said: "Now they are pressing on with it, what they need to illustrate is that they are going to get the best value for the taxpayer and increasingly what this is looking like is a massive bonanza for city speculators and a huge short-changing of the taxpayer."
"It is not too late to pull the plug on this privatisation.
"Tuesday is the deadline by which people can submit applications to get shares. So until you've dished out the shares, until you've allocated them, it is free for the Government to say, 'We have taken a step back and decided we priced this wrongly and decided not to go ahead with it'.
"Now I'm saying don't go ahead with it in principle. But at least if they are going to proceed ensure you get good value for the taxpayer and increasingly we are seeing more and more information coming out which would suggest that the taxpayer will be short-changed."
Asked if it was right for postal workers to take industrial action over the sale and other issues, Mr Umunna said: "I have always said I think striking should be a very last resort and should be avoided at all costs."