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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 February 2021

HMRC: Divisive pay deal leads to expulsions

PCS members on strike, photo Helen Pattison

PCS members on strike, photo Helen Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

An HMRC worker

PCS members in the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are voting on a pay deal. The deal is for a 13% pay increase over three years, but if agreed would put all staff onto a new contract with a significant worsening of conditions for many members.

The proposed pay deal has created divisions on the left in the HMRC group. This has led to the expulsion of left activists, including Socialist Party members, from Left Unity - the current leadership group within PCS. These activists oppose the pay deal, are campaigning against it in the ballot and, together with other reps, are contesting PCS national and group executive elections as Broad Left Network (BLN) candidates: the BLN is a rank-and-file socialist group within the union.

The expulsions from Left Unity are claimed to be for the decision to oppose/not recommend Left Unity candidates. But the political and hypocritical nature of the expulsions is clear.

A number of the people behind this decision refused to recommend and campaign for Chris Baugh, the Left Unity candidate in the assistant general secretary election. As a consequence he lost. No action was taken against these people, which included the Left Unity chairperson.

The national leadership of Left Unity backed the pay deal in HMRC and at group level made no recommendation. This divisive deal, which means a significant worsening of conditions for a large number of members, was negotiated in conditions of secrecy. It is being balloted on without the full details and impact of the deal being made known to members.

Those in HMRC standing as Broad Left Network election candidates are opposed to this divisive, strings-attached pay deal and to the imposition of the new contracts on members whether they like it or not. They are opposed to the secrecy surrounding the negotiations resulting in the deal. They are opposed to a ballot which misrepresents and keeps vital information from members. Opposition to the deal is the basis of their decision to stand for election as Broad Left Network candidates.

The proposed HMRC deal, if accepted, will strike a huge blow against the union's national campaign for a decent no-strings pay increase for all PCS members.

This was already damaged by the Left Unity leadership's handling of the 2020 pay campaign, which parked the union's agreed 10% pay claim as a gesture towards national unity with the Tory government. This gesture was thrown back in their face by the Tories, leading to the abandonment of the pay campaign and to an emboldened government announcing a further pay freeze.

PCS national elections are underway with nominations to be agreed at branch annual general meetings taking place now until 11 March. The Broad Left Network candidates are listed below.

PCS Broad Left Network election candidates - vote for the following

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In The Socialist 24 February 2021:


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