Privatisation threat in HMRC – Ballot of all members in PT Ops

HMRC has set out its plans to potentially bring private sector providers in to HMRC call centres from January 2012 for a ‘building capacity’ 12 month trial. A tendering exercise inviting private sector companies to bid for this work is currently underway. As it currently stands all avenues to persuade HMRC to halt this trial have been exhausted. We have therefore issued notice to the department that we intend to ballot members in Personal Tax Operations (PT Ops) for industrial action, including both strike action and action short of a strike

Ballot opens 27 October and closes 17 November

We need to fight now to defend jobs for the future.  Our experience of private sector involvement in the civil service is that it drives down wages and conditions and results in an inferior service to the public.  Private companies have been waiting in the wings ready to pounce on profitable public sector contracts ever since the government announced its plans to cut thousands more jobs in the civil service.

It is now critical that all members play a part in ensuring that HMRC drop plans to move ahead with its privatisation plans in this area and to provide guarantees that HMRC work will be delivered by permanent HMRC staff in the future.

Alternatives

We believe that the trials could pave the way for further opportunities for the private sector to get a foothold in HMRC, and that there are clear and viable alternatives to the use of the private sector to handle increased workloads.  This includes training volunteers from CustOps sites, who are most vulnerable to job losses, to help during peak times and to make permanent the 1,000 or so temporary and fixed term appointment (TFTAs) staff that have been employed to increase productivity.

We have challenged the department to abandon plans for both the tendering exercise and the subsequent trial and instead employ permanent staff to cover increased workloads. We want additional assurances that public service provision across HMRC will be delivered by HMRC employees now and in the future.

Ballot

Members are being asked to vote YES/YES to both questions:

Are you prepared to take part in strike action?
Are you prepared to take part in industrial action short of a strike?

The ballot arrangements are as follows:

  • All members working in the PT Ops Directorate, that is those members in Customer Contact, Face to Face and Customer Operations, will be balloted;
  • The ballot will start on Friday, 28 October;
  • Ballot papers will need to be returned to the Independent Scrutineer using the pre-paid envelope you will receive with the ballot paper;
  • Members who do not receive a ballot paper by Monday, 7 November should call the R&C group office on 0207 801 2884/5 to request a replacement ballot paper.  Members will need their membership number or NI number;
  • The ballot will close at 12 noon on Thursday, 17 November.

Action

Any action we ask members to take will be aimed at causing maximum disruption to the department whilst minimising the financial implications for our members.  If HMRC is not prepared to abandon its plans to move ahead with its privatisation trial then the action we will ask members to take will involve short walkouts of up to two hours during busy periods, both during the day and on evening shifts.  If no further progress is made, this will be repeated at regular intervals.  Members will also be asked to adhere strictly to their job contract by refusing to undertake duties outwith their job description.

30 November

It is vital that members continue to ensure they are doing all they can to help build support for the national action on 30 November. If the government is allowed to get away with attacking our pensions and driving down wages and conditions, then a cheaper workforce is a more attractive option for the private sector.  Members can help leaflet their workplace and get involved in organising local activities, as well as building links with other workers in other unions. It is the responsibility of all members to ask non members to join our union today.

Next Steps

Your group executive committee (GEC) is urging all members across the PT Ops Directorate in Contact Centres, in Face to Face and in Customer Operations, to vote YES/YES for strike action and action short of a strike in the ballot to prevent private sector companies getting a foothold in HMRC.

  • Public  services, not private profit
  • Invest in permanent jobs 
  • Vote YES for strike action
  • Vote YES for action short of a strike
  • Support the national action on 30 November
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