A special meeting of the Group Executive Committee will take place next week to consider the latest letter from Lin Homer in response to our demands for confidence building measures
Following the breakdown of talks between PCS and HMRC last year, there was a meeting between teams led respectively by Mark Serwotka for PCS and Lin Homer for HMRC on 16 February 2015.
At that meeting PCS negotiators set out the confidence building measures they considered necessary for dialogue to resume and invited Ms Homer to confirm the department’s position in respect of each in writing. That letter has now been received and will be considered by a special meeting of the Group Executive Committee (GEC) on 18 March 2015.
In the event that the GEC conclude that insufficient progress has been made, or that no compromise is forthcoming from the employer, they will prepare for the union’s Annual Delegate Conference in May on the basis that there is no early prospect of being able to resolve an increasingly damaging dispute.
In addition to the industrial options which the GEC can ask members to consider, there is a political and campaigning strategy which takes account of the opportunities presented by the General Election and potential change of government.
On that score, PCS have written to Andrew Tyrie MP, the Chair of the influential Treasury Select Committee to raise our concerns about the evidence provided to him by Lin Homer at a formal hearing on 25 February. There, in response to a question by Teresa Pearce MP, Ms Homer deliberately left the select committee with the clear impression that PCS had asked for the withdrawal of check-off – the decades old system by which the majority of union members pay their subscription via monthly payroll. We have provided Mr Tyrie with substantial written evidence which indicates the contrary to be true and have invited him to remind Ms Homer that “witnesses are required to answer questions truthfully to maintain the integrity of democratic scrutiny.”
We have also secured the support of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and a number of Opposition parties to expose the campaign of union busting at the heart of government which HMRC appears to be involved in. Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, John Ashworth MP, has written to HMRC urging a reconsideration of the decision to withdraw check-off which he recognises as crucial in supporting good industrial relations.
Crucially, all of our initiatives and campaigning options are based on an assumption that we retain the overwhelming majority of current members once check-off is withdrawn on 30 April. With only seven weeks to go, we have just broken through the 50% barrier in the group – although it is recognised that some of the better organised branches have now achieved figures in excess of a 70% sign-up. 20,000 members in HMRC are however yet to complete a Direct Debit mandate and risk losing their union membership unless this is rectified soon, which risks damaging the jobs and staffing campaign; a fact all too apparent to the employer.
Members can secure their PCS membership quickly and easily via our dedicated webpage or by ringing 0800 317464 (or 0207 801 2670 from a mobile).