‘Period of Reflection’ for redundancies ended by official side
Compulsory redundancy notices now threatened
Chief Executive refuses further meeting with PCS
Members will be aware from previous briefings that HMRC management have asked 178 members of staff considered surplus by the department to ‘acquiesce’ to redundancy.
On Wednesday 20 January 2016 PCS attended what HMRC and Civil Service Resourcing (CSR) have described as the final ‘period of reflection’ (POR) meeting – the meeting which is supposed to examine whether all practical steps have been taken to avoid compulsory redundancies.
Throughout the process, PCS have made it clear that we do not consider management have taken all steps open to them to avoid compulsory redundancies. Indeed, some of the proposals put to management by PCS – proposals that are enshrined in the department’s own redundancy avoidance policies – have been effectively ignored by the department. Our view is shared by the National Trade Union Committee (NTUC).
With management and CSR now declaring the POR to be over, events could now see the department moving to issue compulsory redundancy notices for members of staff who have not ‘acquiesced’.
There would be no need for this. Within hours of the ending of the POR meeting, bringing with it the threat of compulsory redundancy notices, management were advising PCS that they are planning to recruit around 1,000 additional staff. This would place the department in the outlandish position of making staff compulsorily redundant at precisely the same time that they are recruiting new staff.
Worse to come?
Clearly, if management claim they cannot avoid compulsory redundancies when starting from a baseline as low as 178, how much worse are things going to get when management properly launch their ‘Building Our Future’ programme; complete with its 90% office closures and up to 25% job cuts?
Management refuse further talks
The steps to avoid compulsory redundancy that management have currently declined to take; such as moving work and offering a further voluntary redundancy exercise, are still open to the department. With this in mind, PCS wrote to the Chief Executive to seek an urgent meeting, arguing that it is still not too late for management to step back from the precipice; and calling on the department to honour its commitments to avoid compulsory redundancies. Disappointingly, the Chief Executive has rejected our request for a further meeting.
Members can now be clear where we stand: Management have refused to employ all of the redundancy-avoidance measures open to them; and are threatening significant numbers of compulsory redundancies, at the same time that they are recruiting around 1,000 additional staff – in the process refusing to meet with the recognised trade union to discuss the redundancies further.
Even under the current rules, it is cheaper for management to make staff compulsorily redundant than to offer the further voluntary redundancy exercise that CSR agree is within the department’s gift to run. With the government now threatening even deeper cuts in civil service redundancy payments, members should be in no doubt that any compulsory redundancy threat facing HMRC staff today, could be faced by up to a quarter of the remaining workforce under management’s office-closure plans.
PCS will keep members fully informed of developments as soon as we are in a position to do so. Future briefings will also inform members how we can all play a part in the campaign to defend jobs and offices in HMRC.
Make sure you stay informed about your union’s campaign. Please ensure you have provided PCS with your personal email address and mobile phone number. You can amend your records by registering on the PCS website; or by calling membership department free on 0800 317 464 (0207 801 2680 from a mobile).