Campaigning in HMRC and national half-day strike on 5 April

pcs-march

The following three briefings were all issued today (14 March). We recommend that members read them all in order to keep appraised of developments in Group and National campaigns.

Defending jobs and conditions in HMRC

Our Group Executive Committee (GEC) recently discussed the PCS National Campaign and the wide ranging attacks facing members in HMRC and our response. This briefing provides an update to members.

Enabling Agreement

Our action last year secured the Enabling Agreement. Since the agreement was signed PCS representatives and the employer have met across business streams to discuss how the commitments set out in the enabling agreement can be taken forward in a meaningful way. Solid progress has been made as a result, this includes:

  • The Creation of 8,000 jobs in compliance as part of re-investment scheme.
  • £34million investment resulting in recruitment of 1,000 fixed term jobs.
  • Change of status for all temporary workers allowing them to apply for permanent posts in the civil service.
  • More promotion opportunities for existing staff.
  • A recognition that HMRC is under resourced and commitment to bid for additional resources.
  • Committing each business area to review overtime use with a view to replacing overtime with permanent jobs.
  • Re-commitment to upholding previous agreements, including using all avenues to avoid compulsory redundancies.
  • Ending privatisation trials in contact centres in February 2013 and a commitment for these services to be delivered in house.
  • Attendance management trials to test out the effectiveness and fairness of the policy which will in turn influence the future development of a sickness absence system.

However, the Enabling Agreement only facilitated talks and since it was signed progress in some areas (for example on overtime usage in the department) has been slow and new proposals from the Government and the department have emerged.

The GEC has therefore agreed to enter into further negotiations on a range of issues. These include:

  • Ongoing job cuts and office closures increasing the risks of compulsory redundancy.
  • The proposed closure of 281 enquiry centres.
  • Further private sector trials in HMRC – in DMB and also Benefits and Credits.
  • Imposed performance management arrangements.
  • The transfer arrangements and protection of terms and conditions for members in scope for Universal Credit.
  • Proposed detrimental changes to terms and conditions of service.
  • Attacks on our union democracy and ability to function via cuts to facility time.

We will engage positively with the employer on these issues with a view to seeking agreement.

At the same time as our work to test the Enabling Agreement and assess if we can secure agreements that would effectively protect member’s interests the GEC has also agreed that we need to consult with members over what our response should be if we cannot secure a fair agreement.

Consultation with members

Civil Servants are being singled out and punished by a government ideologically opposed to the public sector.

In response our PCS National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed a rolling programme of action across the union beginning with a one day strike on Budget day, 20th March.

Further national and group strikes of varying durations, including half days and short walkouts, timed to have the greatest impact, with dates to be announced at a later date.

In addition to the programme of action we will be discussing with the NEC how best to quickly implement calls from a number of our Branches for a clear and unequivocal position regarding non co-operation with HMRC’s wholly unacceptable performance management arrangements.

The GEC has also agreed to consult members and branches on:

  1. Forms of strike action, action short of strike and imaginative campaigns to support the national rolling programme of action. Members are invited to give us their ideas and thoughts on this directly via: R&CCampaigns@pcs.org.uk
  2. Additional action in HMRC only that member’s might be willing to take which would support and compliment the national action that our union called last week.

Consultation will take place throughout March and April to see what action members might be prepared to support if we cannot reach a negotiated way forward.

The GEC will be meeting again at the end of March to receive an update on activity and developments across our bargaining areas taking forward the negotiations and to assess membership support for action in the event that we cannot find a way forward.

Now is the time for maximum unity. We must and will consider the use of all methods at our disposal to secure a decent, fair and secure future for our members in HMRC.

Further action to follow budget day

Urgent information for members in Revenue and Customs

A half day walkout has been called for Friday 5th April involving all PCS members. This will follow the 20th March Budget Day strike.

The action will start at 1.00 pm across the UK and is part of a rolling programme of action agreed following consultation with members and a successful strike ballot in February and March. PCS members will observe a national overtime ban from 21 March, and strike action will be interspersed with protests and campaign weeks of action.

The strike will take place just a few days after a new civil service performance management system will have been imposed, about which the union has been invited to no meaningful negotiations. PCS members in a number of areas will be taking action short of a strike to disrupt the draconian new system, which is designed to slash jobs. A briefing for members in HMRC will follow.

Support campaign against Enquiry Centre closures

HMRC plans to pilot the closure of 13 enquiry centres in North East England represents yet another attack to PCS members’ jobs, terms and conditions. The Revenue and Customs Group Executive Committee (GEC) is fundamentally opposed to this decision and will be campaigning against any closures using every tool at their disposal.

HMRC plans to pilot the closure of 13 enquiry centres in North East England represents yet another attack to PCS members’ jobs, terms and conditions. The Revenue and Customs Group Executive Committee (GEC) is fundamentally opposed to this decision and will be campaigning against any closures using every tool at their disposal.

HMRC has made it clear that if this pilot is a success then it will move to close the entire enquiry centre network (281 offices) by May 2014. The planned enquiry centre closures are in Alnwick, Bishop Auckland, Bridlington, Hexham, Darlington, Durham, Middlesborough, Morpeth, Newcastle, Scarborough, Stockton, Sunderland and York from 3 June.

GEC members and reps from the affected sites are meeting to discuss the next steps and enacting key campaigning priorities to build support, including working with local community groups and trade unions in North East England in a campaign of opposition.

We can fight, we can win

There is no rationale for this decision. It places over 1,300 enquiry centre staff in a vulnerable situation, with the risk of compulsory redundancy a real possibility.

The proposals also represent a major reduction in the service that HMRC provides to customers. The vast majority of users of Enquiry Centres are migrant workers, pensioners and the most vulnerable in our society who see enquiry centres as a vital life line for assistance with dealing with complex tax issues.

Together we can fight these closures. Within weeks of their final decision, PCS members and nursery workers saved two workplace nurseries from closure and secured financial compensation for affected families at the end of last year. This shows campaigning get results. Visit the R&C pages on the PCS website to get the latest update.

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