POSTAL workers held a rally in Southampton demanding the Government abandon its plan to sell a stake in Royal Mail.

About 80 members of the Communication and Workers Union and other supporters marched through the city urging shoppers to back their campaign to “keep the post public”.

They were joined by Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead and Labour’s south east Euro MP Peter Skinner who earlier addressed the rally.

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The Government says Royal Mail’s multi-billion pound pension deficit and the falling numbers of letters being delivered shows it needs reform and outside investment.

Unions argue the service can be modernised without privatisation, which would trigger another round of Post Office closures and put up prices.

Mr Whitehead, who is among about 180 Labour MPs opposing the part-privatisation plans, said he believed in a public owned and public run service for the public and that privatisation would be a “terrible deal for the British taxpayer”.

Mr Skinner added: “There is absolutely no need to privatise the Royal Mail and there is nothing in the laws that come from the European Union that says that needs to be the case.”

The campaigners were boosted by news last week that all four Royal Mail businesses reported full-year profit for the first time in 20 years – doubling to £321m.

The rally was organised by left wing campaign group, Compass, which argues Royal Mail should become a membership company like Network Rail, which reinvests profits.

A proposed new law would allow the government to sell up to 49 per cent of the Royal Mail and bail out the pension fund.

Southampton Itchen MP and skills minister John Denham insisted the government plans would “make sure the universal service for the public is protected.”