Prospect members gathered with representatives from other Mint unions outside the main entrance to the Assembly at 11.30am.
The threat of privatisation was raised in a report published in April by Gerry Grimstone1 which recommended the “introduction of private capital (which) will best allow the business to pursue further commercial opportunities …which come from moving outside the public sector.”
As a result the Mint is to be vested as a government-owned company by the end of the year. But unions at the Mint argue that there is no need to change the existing business model, given its recent record of success, profit generation and meeting all ministerial targets.
They are calling for this success to be consolidated through investment in new technology to develop the business, with any profits returned to the taxpayer rather than a private plc.
On behalf of professional staff at the Mint, Prospect Negotiator Gareth Howells said: “We question the wisdom in the current economic climate of taking a thriving public service and making it dependant on private capital.
“In addition to the government’s bailout of the banks, it has recently backed away from its plan to part-privatise the Royal Mail and has had to take the East Coast rail service back into state ownership after National Express sought to renegotiate its contract following losses of £20m.
“Companies taking on public sector work almost always seek to increase profits by cutting jobs, terms and conditions. Management have already indicated that staff joining after vesting will be on different arrangements but we do not want a two-tier workforce.”
The meeting was the first of several which will also see Mint employees travel to Westminster on Tuesday, October 20 to outline the case against privatisation to MPs and meet Treasury Minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry.
NB. As a senior civil servant under the Thatcher government in the 1980s, Grimstone was instrumental in the sell-off of 20 public bodies.