PCS Bootle Taxes Branch extends its solidarity and congratulations to PCS members in Dundee Contact Centre, who today managed to win permanent jobs for 38 staff facing redundancy with the threat of strike action.
PCS’s current dispute with HMRC over job and staffing cuts saw well supported action early in the summer, and action short of strike is ongoing. However, HMRC’s continued refusal tto seriously negotiate has hampered efforts to resolve the dispute, meaning that members around the country face the loss of their jobs even as backlogs of work grow, cases with potential tax yield are mothballed due to lack of staffing, and calls to the Department’s Contact Centres wait more than 20 minutes in some cases for an answer.
HMRC’s location strategy, as yet undefined and shrouded in mystery for staff, is leading to some perverse decisions as pockets of staff, both permanent and FTA are notified that they are not wanted in their current location.
Across the UK, office closure plans have become apparent first, not through formal closure proposals and consultation exercises, but through voluntary exit offers seeking to undermine the viability of an office, then through surplus declarations and voluntary redundancy offers as consultations launch, seeking to force staff, with the gun of lower compulsory redundancy payments to their heads, to jump before they are pushed and seal the fate of their office.
In Contact Centres, the abhorrent situation has arisen where for spurious reasons, trained FTA staff are having their employment terminated in some sites while external recruitment takes place on other sites for untrained staff to do that same work, which, given the extreme portability of Contact Centre work, undermines the Department’s claim that the reason for dismissal is redundancy.
Against this backdrop, and with FTA Members facing compulsory redundancy in several locations around the country, the Dundee Branch decided to push for local action in defence of FTA jobs. A non-statutory ballot of members in Dundee resulted in a remarkable 70% turnout and a 95.8% vote to take part in industrial action in defence of the FTAs and in pursuit of job security for all staff in Dundee Contact Centre.
A two-hour walkout was to be staged by hundreds of workers today (Monnday 15 September) at 12pm. This was to be followed by daily half-hour walkouts for the remainder of the week.
However, a last-minute offer saw the union call off the strike at 11am after HMRC advised PCS that alternative positions had been found for those staff in the DWP in Dundee. Whilst discussions are required to flesh out the detail, PCS have welcomed this development.
“This result is a testament to the outstanding solidarity demonstrated by PCS Members in defending their colleagues in Dundee.” Said Helen Meldrum, PCS Dundee Branch Secretary. “Our Members can be so proud of themselves. They saved 39 Jobs for Dundee today.
“Today has been a massive win for Dundee, but HMRC need to invest further here, and to give our hard working members the job security they need. Others around the country still face the threat of redundancy tonight and in the weeks to come, and standing in solidarity with them, we call upon HMRC to give them a future too.”
The Dundee victory should give us all hope as we continue to fight for jobs and staffing. An injury to one is an injury to all, and we are stronger when we stand and fight together.