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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 October 2011

Tax dodging continues while staff face cuts

Teamsters local 814 president Jason Ide and PCS members outside Sotheby's London, 13.10.11, photo Kevin Parslow. PCS members will fight the job cuts.

Teamsters local 814 president Jason Ide and PCS members outside Sotheby's London, 13.10.11, photo Kevin Parslow. PCS members will fight the job cuts.   (Click to enlarge)

Big business and the wealthy manipulate loopholes in the system to avoid and evade paying an estimated 120 billion a year in tax. The PCS union's alternative to the cuts demands investment in jobs and services to pay the UK's debt and aid economic recovery, rather than allowing parasitic tax dodgers to avoid paying their fair share.

Despite this, the government is ploughing ahead with up to 10,000 job cuts in the revenue and customs department (HMRC) by 2015, including closing a number of offices across the UK and bringing the private sector into its call centre network.

PCS members in HMRC are angry about the number of attacks facing them. New policies introduced to reduce sickness levels are being abused by local managers to discipline staff, raising alarming concerns about the treatment of disabled staff and those with underlying health problems.

Cuts to the civil service compensation scheme, which determines the level of redundancy/early release payouts, will force many out the door early. It is now more attractive financially to take voluntary redundancy. Management hope this will make it easier to close offices.

PCS has a good record in fighting office closures and will oppose and campaign against losing a vital service. PCS national policy states that if one member is made compulsorily redundant then that would trigger a ballot for national action.

PCS in HMRC are also fighting back in call centres. A ballot for industrial action in call centres is underway.

HMRC are inviting private companies to run a 12 month 'trial' in January to help reduce call handling waiting times. Scandalously, they will allow private companies the use of HMRC premises and equipment to carry this out - they will also employ around 100 of their 'own' staff, no doubt on the minimum wage and on bad conditions. It's likely these private companies will be non-unionised, giving the department the opportunity to pose a race to the bottom between civil servants and private sector colleagues.

Not to mention the data security implications on giving private companies access to personal tax information.

HMRC has no need to bring in the private sector. Over 1,000 temporary workers who have been employed and fully trained up by experienced staff over the past 12 months could be given permanent jobs to help increase customer service in the long term.

Our ballot for industrial action and action short of strike began on 27 October. Members will be involved in organising two hour walkouts every fortnight during busy periods and will work to rule. This will begin at the end of November following the ballot result, due 17 November. This will hit the business hard while reducing the financial impact on members' pockets in the run up to further national action.

Tracy Edwards, PCS industrial officer, personal capacity
Thelma Snelgrove, PCS rep HMRC Thames Valley branch

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In The Socialist 26 October 2011:


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