Bootle Taxes Branch motions to PCS Conference

Sarah Broad speaking at Conference 2013

Sarah Broad speaking at Conference 2013

The following are the motions that passed at the recent branch Annual General Meeting. We are posting them here for easy reference for anybody who wishes to support or second them from other branches.

Group Motions

Motion 1

This conference observes with dismay the increased Saturday shifts for those working in a contact centres. Some people have had their number of Saturdays doubled in the peak periods.

The department are imposing additional unsocial working to cover the obvious staff shortage. With these changes it feels yet again as though Contact Centre staff are being treated like second class citizens.

Conference believes that a fully resourced HMRC would mean that there would be no need for these additional Saturdays.
In addition to this, all members, regardless of the directorate in which they work, are entitled to a work/life balance and stability in their working pattern.

Conference therefore instructs the GEC to:

  • Demand a return to 1-in-8 Saturdays for all staff (except for those who prefer otherwise)
  • Continue working to press HMRC for more staff to reach adequate staffing level
  • To ballot members and if voted for, pursue action up to and including strike action on key weekends.

Motion 2

This R&C Group Conference notes that the Group Executive Committee have substantively failed to adhere to policy set by R&C GDC 2013. This includes in some cases treating carried motions as remitted and elsewhere failing to follow up on carried motions at all.

In particular, Conference highlights the following examples:

  • Performance Management Systems: EM17 instructed non-cooperation with the PMR system, backed up by industrial action up to strike action if HMRC did not remove the guided distribution. Motion 6 also advised non-cooperation and action up to strike if the system was imposed.
  • Instead, non-cooperation was delayed by months, only to be almost immediately downgraded to a request for deferral. This was then called off in the name of seeking further data, further delaying any possibility of doing as members instructed.
  • Final Offer on Terms & Conditions: EM10 instructed the GEC to ballot members on the final offer from HMRC, urging rejection and a move to industrial action.
  • This ballot has failed to materialise, nothing further has been said about it in bulletins and the new terms have become embedded.
  • Privatisation: Motion 110 instructed the GEC to refuse to cooperate with privatisation exercises and to engage a campaign of opposition to them when they arose.
  • The ongoing privatisation exercise in Benefits & Credits not only faced no opposition but was actively engaged with by the DTUS – as confirmed by Official Side to Benefits & Credits in the minutes of a meeting which occurred a month after conference, easily available on the HMRC intranet. This is not only a failure to follow Conference policy but a direct contravention of it.

Conference is dismayed that, as disgraceful as these examples are, they are hardly the only instances of policy from GDC 13 being ignored.

On two of these issues, PMR and Terms and Conditions, the ARC union moved to ballot for industrial action. This ballot has at the time of writing failed to produce any concrete action, however the fact that an extremely conservative trade union for senior managers would not only commit to such a course but do so at the behest of a membership who rejected their recommendation to go along with the employer’s plans is a further indictment of our own internal democracy.

PCS prides itself on being a member led Union. This Conference reminds the GEC that members do not want to return to the days when every Conference was dominated by delegates chasing up via motions a lack of action by the GEC on the previous year’s instructions from members.

Conference therefore censures the GEC and instructs them with immediate effect:

  • To ensure that responsibility for carrying out conference mandates is assigned appropriately within a month of Conference;
    (This should be sooner for motions with more urgent timescales.)
  • To publish a list of GEC members responsible for said mandates immediately once it is drawn up;
  • To provide to all members, as an absolute minimum, quarterly updates on the progress of all motions passed at Conference;
  • To provide all members with an explanation as soon as it becomes clear that either the terms or timescale of a motion will not be met for any reason.

Motion 3

Conference notes the ONE PT flexible working agenda appears to be a marvellous plan on paper, however until such a time that these plans factor in a smidgeon of reality they are doomed to failure.

Conference affirms that the expectation that members can flip between lines of work as varied as PAYE, B&C, NIC&EO and SA; taking calls, processing forms, dealing with work management lists, or dealing with post depending on its nature, often with 24 hours notice, is, as plans go, about as cunning as a fox who voluntarily hands himself over to a pack of hounds, in the expectation of a fair trial.

To restore a bit of sanity into the aspirations of departmental directors the GEC are instructed to seek agreement from official side:

  • That no work should be undertaken by members until they and local management are adequately prepared to do so
  • That those best placed to make such are decision are local OS and TUS
  • That the following points should form part of such decision making:
  1. All staff and managers must have received the appropriate training for them to undertake the new work.
  2. A Business Manager (HO or above) must have been appointed and undertook training on the work in order to oversee the work whilst it is in situ.
  3. Local Official Side and TU side must have plans in place to jointly monitor the roll out and the undertaking of the new work to ensure staff and tax payers are not adversely affected.
  4. A full risk assessment to take place to ensure staff welfare, including monitoring of workplace stress.
  5. A representative from LTUS shall be invited to all management meetings discussing the new work.
  6. There must be minutes of a meeting between TUS and OS confirming the above terms have been met.
  7. The work shall not be rolled out until such a time as point 6 is enacted.
  8. Once rolled out the work may be stopped if problems arise if agreed by local OS and TUS.
  9. Any local disagreement shall immediately be escalated to national OS/TUS. In the event such a disagreement occurs before point 6, the work shall not be rolled out.

The GEC shall report to branches within 2 months of conference detailing the official response.

In the event that such a response is negative Branches with members in PT shall then be consulted over the way ahead. Such consultation shall take place within 3 months of conference.

Motion 4

This R&C Group Conference is disgusted at the treatment by both ISS and HMRC of cleaning staff within the department. Cutbacks to cleaning staff, both in terms of redundancies and reductions of hours, represent not only a threat to the health and safety of staff having to work in unclean conditions but also an attack on an already marginalised and casualised workforce.

Conference applauds the PCS reps in those branches who have used this issue to organise previously non-unionised cleaning staff. Particularly those who have achieved 100% union membership. Conference also welcomes the GEC’s efforts to secure central negotiations over the proposed redundancies.

However, conference agrees that this initial work now needs to be supplemented by a broad campaign in defence of contracted staff. This should not be about merely resisting attacks from the employer but about pushing forward positive demands to seek improvements for outsourced workers.

Conference agrees that these demands should include:

  • Equivalent pay scales to civil servants with at least the living wage for all staff;
  • Equivalent pension rights with civil servants;
  • Contractual increases in hours, including full time hours, for those who want them;
  • Contractual sick pay;
  • Full trade union recognition rights including facility time for staff who become reps.

In order to secure these demands, the GEC should initiate a campaign as a matter of urgency in which negotiations with HMRC and ISS are supplemented by ongoing activity at a branch and office level, including protests, petitioning and political lobbying.
Such activity should also be geared towards the possibility of coordinated industrial action between civil servants and outsourced staff, including both working to rule and strike action.

Recognising that such action will be more difficult for low paid and casualised cleaners than for civil servants, conference agrees that a strike fund shall be established as soon as possible after conference and fundraising efforts to build this fund shall begin with urgency.

Motion 5

Conference censures the GEC over the lack of action over the odious PMR system, further more conference is embarrassed that the bastions of compromise ARC have taken a more radical stance over the last 12 months than the PCS Revenue and Customs Group.

In order to rescue the reputation of our group in the eyes of the trade union movement conference instructs the GEC to organise total non-co-operation with the discriminatory PMR system. To this end the GEC shall –

  1. Advise members to withdraw co-operation from the PMR system until such a time as the department can demonstrate there processes will not discriminate against members in protected groups.
  2. Ballot members on a work to rule where by all good will, volunteering, and undertaking of tasks not appropriate to grade is boycotted; in short anything we can advise our members that they can get away with not doing we shall encourage them to rigorously not to do.
  3. Provide advice to members in management roles on how they can protect their teams and themselves from the pressures that are placed on them.
  4. Actively seek test cases to support through employment tribunals.
  5. Disrupt the KPI setting process through rigorous challenging of how they are set, and then used.

National Motions

Motion 1

Conference notes with alarm the increase of those who are in fuel poverty in the UK. The causes of these include: low pay, welfare cuts and mounting energy bills, whilst major energy companies continue to maximise their profits. Conference further recognises the impact on climate change of rising fossil fuel prices and the lack of investment in renewable energy.

As the majority of PCS members earn a lower than average income, it comes as no surprise that some of our own members find themselves in fuel poverty.

We, therefore, instruct the NEC to:

  1. Produce a campaign leaflet for all members, using information from Fuel Poverty Action and other campaigning organisations.
  2. Lobby for a public commitment by current and future governments to freeze energy prices, tackle tax avoidance, increase taxation on energy profits and restore public ownership of the energy sector;
  3. Campaign for a living wage for all of our members;
  4. Continue to highlight how fracking and shale gas are not the solution to either job creation, energy bill price cuts or CO2 emissions reduction; and,
  5. Support the aims of the One Million Climate jobs campaign to address both the economic and environmental crises by creating jobs in renewable energy, public housing and public transport.

Motion 2

For the fourth year running, PCS members in the civil service face the full frontal assault of government austerity. We are now paying more money for worse pensions, pay continues to fall behind the cost of living and those of us whose jobs aren’t at risk face working longer with far less favourable terms and conditions.

This Annual Delegate Conference agrees that this situation is utterly intolerable and reaffirms the need to fight to defend jobs, pay, pensions and terms & conditions.

Conference further affirms the need to not only resist the attacks but push for positive gains, and instructs the National Executive Committee to adopt the following demands as part of the national campaign:

  • A pay rise for all civil servants in PCS grades of at least 10%;
  • The reversal of all pension contributions increases implemented since 2010;
  • The best available terms in all areas (leave, flexi, sick pay, etc) before the recent changes to form the baseline of a new, genuinely progressive, offer;
  • All fixed term staff to be offered permanent jobs;
  • No further job cuts, to be supplemented with specific recruitment claims for each under-resourced department.

The NEC is instructed to present these demands to the Cabinet Office as soon as practicable and to begin publicising them to the membership accordingly.

Motion 3

This Annual Delegate Conference endorses the three-pronged industrial action strategy to come out of the national membership consultation last summer of coordinated action with other trade unions, national action and paid selective action funded by a levy.

Conference agrees, however, that such a strategy cannot be pursued in fits and starts, as both momentum and escalation are necessary to exert industrial pressure on this government.

Lengthy spans without action only serve to erode the confidence of our members while leaving us open to the government’s continuous assault on our jobs, pay, pensions and terms & conditions.

Conference therefore instructs the National Executive Committee to implement the agreed strategy as a matter of urgency.
In doing so, Conference further instructs the NEC:

  • To coordinate action with strikes announced by other unions where this compliments our campaign. This should include the possibility of regional or selective action where appropriate (e.g. NOMS group striking alongside NAPO, DFE members striking alongside the NUT and NASUWT, etc.);
  • To utilise lightning walkouts instead of ‘protest days’ when mobilising PCS support for national days of action such as that called by the People’s Assembly on 5 November last year;
  • To properly implement the aborted tactic from last spring of themed campaigning weeks, with dates and materials produced enough in advance to facilitate activity on the ground by branches rather than simply online awareness raising;
  • To encourage, support and promote any creative direct action, protest or other initiatives which come from rank-and-file members through their branches.

Motion 4

Conference is aware of an increase of PCS Representatives suffering from mental health conditions. The triggers for stress can be many and various, from pressure in the work place to personal circumstances.

On occasions a lack of understanding from fellow union representatives, as well as managers can hinder their recovery. Not all representatives have been trained in, or have had experience of mental health conditions and so can fail to make reasonable adjustments for fellow representatives.

This lack of support can be most unhelpful at a time when support is paramount to peoples’ wellbeing and can be detrimental to a person’s recovery.

As reps we are constantly fighting for reasonable adjustments to be made by managers for our members. Conference believes that by being more supportive of one and other and making adjustments once people have returned to work this will improve the situation for all involved.

This National Delegate conference instructs the NEC to:

  • Liaise with the TUC to ensure that all Stage 1 (or equivalent) training for all representatives, including workplace representatives, health and safety representatives and union learning representatives includes, as a minimum, an introduction to mental health awareness.
  • To ensure that any introductory training run by PCS for representatives, including but not exclusively, Introduction to PCS and New Reps course has an introduction to mental health awareness
  • Encourage branches to send reps on the existing Mental Health course run by TUC Education
  • To further publicise the PCS counselling support service helpline number

Motion 5

Conference is aware of an increase in the abhorrent practice of badger culling in the UK. Badgers are native species of Britain and we don’t know what their destruction could do to the rest of our complex ecosystems.

It has been reported that as many as 6 in 7 badgers who are killed, being free of TB, so effectively collateral damage. All in all the cull has been a huge waste of money, costing around £4,000 per badger killed. At a time when people are suffering due to unnecessary and brutal austerity measures, this is a further slap in the face to the people of Britain, (as well as the badgers!)

Conference believes that this is an unnecessary and cruel practice and one which should be made illegal, and not encouraged by the government.

This NDC compels the NEC to:

  • Work with local community groups to oppose the barbaric nature of badger culling
  • Lobby the government to end this barbaric practice, using our parliamentary group where necessary
  • Publicise events and provide support for those who are trying to help the badger’s cause.

Motion 6

Conference notes that the tendering process for facilities contracts within the civil service is failing to provide adequate workplaces for our members.

Conference is alarmed at the repeated sub -contracting that occurs with these contracts, that puts increased pressure on our members undertaking cleaning work.

Conference instructs the NEC to campaign against outsourcing this work, but where it happens to campaign for the tendering process to –

  1. Ensure the living wage is paid to the employees who undertake the work
  2. Ensure that there is a commitment over staffing levels that the successful firm will provide, that can only be changed by agreement of all party’s
  3. Ensure that the successful firm must engage with local trade union reps on matters concerning health and safety
  4. Ensure that PCS as a stakeholder should have input to the assessment of the service provided
  5. Ensure that the contract cannot be sub-contracted. The successful firm must undertake all work from staff on their payroll
  6. And that at the tendering stage full details of the requirements of the tender should be published to all stakeholders including PCS.

2 thoughts on “Bootle Taxes Branch motions to PCS Conference

  1. Pingback: Revenue & Customs Group Conference: Bootle Taxes sets the agenda | PCS Bootle Taxes Branch

  2. Pingback: PCS National Conference: Coordinated pay strikes, UNITE, and badgers | PCS Bootle Taxes Branch

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