Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary, Meeting with Organisations Representing CTT Workers

For public control of CTT to serve the people and the country

For public control of CTT to serve the people and the country

A greeting to all those who decided to be with us at this Meeting with organisations representing CTT workers "For public control of CTT to serve the people and the country.

A greeting we want to extend to all the workers of this multi-centennial company, this symbol of the response to an essential public service, this irreplaceable instrument for the cohesion of our country.

Workers symbolized in this mythical figure that was present in the most remote corners of the country, the postman who, as the singer said, always arrived from 9 to 10.

During the next week, 500 years will have passed since that day, November 6, 1520, when King D. Manuel I created the Public Mail Service which, with the Republic, became known as the General Administration of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones, and which in 1969 would become Public Company CTT.

It is a long history, which was described to us here today, of a postal service that has developed and which, with the April Revolution, reached levels of excellence, in terms of quality, reliability and speed of the service provided, and universality of access throughout the national territory.

Portugal then had a public service that met the needs of the country and its populations, which guaranteed working conditions and rights that do not compare with those of today and still handed regular revenue to the State Budget.

A public service that awakened the greed of private capital. And, as has been stressed here, by the hand of parties with right-wing policies, PS, PSD and CDS, CTT was placed in a privatisation process, which took place within the framework of the liberalisation of the postal sector. This process would be completed in 2013 and 2014 with the sale of 100% of CTT’s capital.

The consequences of privatisation were exactly those against which the PCP has repeatedly warned.

The quality of the postal service deteriorated, in the name of cutting production costs. Where previously there was daily mail distribution, there is now one or, at best, twice a week. There are increasing complaints of letters that do not arrive in good time.

As we denounced this week in the Assembly of the Republic, last year CTT failed in 23 of the 24 quality indicators! To give you an idea, CTT was unable to guarantee the delivery of 90% of regular mail within three days after its acceptance, when, at the time of privatisation, a large part of this mail was delivered the day after its entry into CTT. This year, the situation is even worse, and the blame is not just of the pandemic.

The workers are increasingly fewer and more exploited to feed the hallowed profits. The rounds are increasingly longer and the workload leads to the exhaustion of many. On average, wages remain low, far short of the effort of those who work under all conditions.

The prices were brutally increased.
With the closure of hundreds of stations, the public service has moved further away from the populations. A tragic decision for the country that lost the public postal service and a tragic one for the populations - particularly in the interior - who were left to their own devices with a private company that only thinks of its profits without concern for the consequences of the decisions it takes.

The situation is not worse only thanks to the enormous dedication and stoic effort of the workers who have carried out countless actions of struggle, demanding the hiring of more workers and the improvement of conditions to end the overload to which they are subjected and to be able to provide a better quality service.

Profits that were previously added to the State Budget but have now been pocketed by CTT’s shareholders. The gigantic heritage accumulated over 500 years of history is being squandered and turned into dividends.

Where previously there was a postal service, the new shareholders are now building yet another bank, over the rubble of the national postal network.

And we want to underline: all that the private interests - such as the Champalimaud family, large European banks or the Blackrock vulture fund - gained from this option is the opposite of all that the populations, workers and the State itself lost.

The government has been passively watching the degradation that we denounce here, despite the increase in complaints and denunciations from the populations and many local administration officials, and the successive alerts from the organisations representing workers and even from the regulator ANACOM.

We are at the moment when the government has to decide on the renewal of the postal service concession.

This weekend, the CTT administration made public the blackmail it has been making on the government for more than a year: it threatened the Portuguese State, which either pays it to provide a public service in even worse conditions, or CTT will abandon the public postal service, and does not even propose to renew the concession.

They did the harm and now claim to be the victims!

It is unfortunate that there was no immediate response from the government.

The Portuguese State cannot begin to pay a private company for a service that, when it was provided by a public company brought profits to the State. The Portuguese State cannot accept the degradation of the postal service that we have today, much less give up on overcoming this degradation and accept an even worse quality of service as claimed by CTT’s administration.

And above all, the Portuguese State cannot accept being blackmailed.

The answer that the government should have given, and there is still time, was to affirm that CTT is essential for the provision of a quality public postal service, but that what is essential in CTT is its workers, its postal network, its heritage and its technical knowledge, which current licensees have not yet managed to destroy.
The necessary answer is to move towards the recovery of public control of CTT, as the PCP again proposed last week in the Assembly of the Republic, and PS, PSD, CDS, Chega and IL once again rejected.

This challenge remains: that by November 6, the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the public postal service in Portugal, the government responds to the blackmail of the Champalimaud group, announcing the withdrawal of the Postal Service concession and the resumption of public control of CTT. For this, it will have the support of the PCP.

The Posts are an irreplaceable instrument for social, economic and territorial cohesion and should contribute decisively to the harmonious development of the country. Instead of being a company to guarantee profits and dividends to its shareholders, as has been the logic of its current owners, CTT-Correios must provide a quality public service without discrimination. They must, in fact, be at the service of the country and the people, the national economy and development, with a balanced economic and financial management that invests in technological innovation with a view to improving working conditions and the quality of the service it provides.

But if the government is unable to assume this stand in time, it still has the opportunity to ensure that objective by adopting the proposal that the PCP tabled yesterday, in the State Budget for 2021.

With this proposal, we wanted to signal, on the first day to present proposals for changes, the priority that we give to the guarantee of having in the hands of the State the set of companies and strategic sectors for our economy and development.

We also wanted to signal how distant the State Budget proposal is from responding to the structural problems that the country faces, a large part of which are not due to the epidemic.

Distant for not guaranteeing the country the levers for its development.

Distant because it does not impose policies that guarantee the workers the valorisation of their wages and rights.

Distant because it does not provide the regions and populations of the interior with all public services, including post offices and postal stations meanwhile closed.

We live in demanding times. With each passing day the populations are overwhelmed with new bad news. Not only the number of coronavirus infections, but also the shortcomings in the public response, the use that big capital made of the epidemic, the increase in unemployment and poverty, the forced or self-imposed isolation through the spread of fear and calls for resignation.

CTT, Correios de Portugal, was for decades an element of trust and support for the populations, particularly in the most unpopulated areas.

So it can be again, if there is a political will. On our part, we will not give up on our objective. And we know that, with our persistence and the workers' struggle, this objective that seems distant will also become reality.

  • Economia e Aparelho Produtivo
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