Upwards of 500 HMRC staff in Bootle Taxes Branch took part in a walkout today (22 April) in protest at how senior management handled leave. Similar spontaneous actions elsewhere showed the strength of feeling and forced Revenue bosses into a panic.
That morning, a bulletin from PCS Assistant Group Secretary Alwyn Mason told members how management had reneged on their agreement with the union. Despite initially agreeing increased percentages for leave, HMRC told PCS that more staff would be needed in than initially thought. This was blamed on the need for additional resources to deal with the introduction of the Real Time Information system.
Union members from the affected directorate – Personal Tax Operations – responded by walking out of work for 15 minutes. In Bootle, Branch Secretary John Smith described how the plans represented an attempt to put more restrictions on staff due to shortfalls caused by cuts and job losses.
He also told members how no similar restrictions were being placed on other sections of HMRC. As PT Ops has borne the brunt of staffing reductions in the past few years, this only underlines that staff are being punished and facing ever tighter restrictions because there simply aren’t enough bodies needed to deliver an effective public service. The condemnation of call handling by the commons public accounts committee underlines this fact.
The walkout at the Triad was so big that the path in front of the building was completely blocked and a huge crowd was gathered in the foyer as well as outside. Reports suggest that other offices, including Edinburgh and our sister branch at St John’s House, saw similar walkouts.
Management have responded by issuing an update claiming that leave percentages have been increased and that they are “disappointed” with PCS’s tone. This suggests that they were rattled by the strength of feeling behind this issue and only goes to show that when workers act collectively, we can force movement from management.
Further updates will follow on this issue when we have them. However, management can rest assured that when they try to ride roughshod over their staff’s needs that PCS members simply will not stand for it.