HMRC sacks 150 and stokes dispute

  • HMRC e-mails compulsory redundancy notices to around 150 staff
  • Department still refusing to apply its own redundancy policy
  • Management hiring new staff as dismissal letters sent

hmrc-spending-review-cuts-370x229Senior HM Revenue and Customs officials have stoked a dispute by today issuing almost 150 compulsory redundancy notices.

You will be aware that PCS have repeatedly met with HMRC management, in an attempt to persuade the department to follow its own redundancy procedures, to try to avoid the issuing of these notices:

  • We have reminded management that, at a time when countless new members of staff are being recruited in the same and adjacent grades, there is absolutely no need to make any member of staff redundant
  • We have reminded management that their own policy allows them to move work as a redundancy-avoidance measure
  • We have reminded management that many staff declined an earlier opportunity for voluntary redundancy because they genuinely believed that there would be the prospect of redeployment; and that had they known about the scale of the office-closure programme, they may have opted for voluntary severance. We have also reminded management that the Cabinet Office have confirmed that the possibility of such a further voluntary redundancy exercise is in the gift of HMRC.
  • We wrote to the HMRC Chief Executive asking that she intervene to suspend the issuing of compulsory redundancies to allow for the exploration of measures to avoid such draconian action.
  • We have made further representations to the Cabinet Office in relation to the Civil Service wide Protocols on handling potential redundancy situations as we are clear that the processes involved have not been carried out in an acceptable way.

All of these representations have been completely rejected by the employer.

Sinister

It’s clear then, that the huge distress that has been caused to a significant number of HMRC staff has been entirely avoidable. So why have the department opted to dismiss staff that they quite clearly do not need to dismiss?

It could be something as simple as callous disregard for the wellbeing and livelihoods of their workforce; or it could be something more sinister: it could be that they want to use the threat of redundancy to try to develop an intimidated and downtrodden workforce, totally compliant in the face of their ill-considered office-closure plans, and who will accept any outrageous attack on their jobs and their terms and conditions of service.

Either way, this is not the behaviour of a reasonable employer; one with the best interests of its staff at heart. It is an attitude more common amongst 19th Century mill-owners, who see their staff as little more than common utilities.

More to come

Management have clearly set out their stall, when it comes to the future of jobs in HMRC. The so-called ‘Building Our Future’ programme would result in thousands of job-cuts, along with thousands more staff who would find themselves forced out because they are unable to travel to the tiny number of workplaces that would survive the department’s cull.

The recent announcement that the government plan to slash civil service redundancy payments still further, should send the clearest of message to members in HMRC that unless we oppose their plans, then mass redundancies – and redundancies on the cheap – are the direction of travel.

This follows news that 250 business department jobs are threatened in Sheffield, hundreds of Department for Health staff could go, the Passport Office plans to shut almost half of its interview offices and 86 more courts have been earmarked for closure.

The government recently announcement it wants to close three quarters of its offices in the coming years in what we described as a “wholesale retreat from providing local public services”.

Our general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It is entirely unnecessary and inflammatory to tell these 150 staff there is no future for them in the civil service when staff are being recruited to do similar work.

“This is not how reasonable employers behave and we will be considering all options, including industrial action.”

If members in HMRC stand together, we give ourselves the greatest chance of defending jobs, livelihoods, and the essential service HMRC provides.

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