The following are the motions that passed at our branch Annual General Meeting and emergency motions passed at our Mandate Meeting. We are posting them here for easy reference for anybody who wishes to support or second them from other branches.
Motions to Group Delegate Conference
Conference notes the increasing burden being placed on A grade members in the Customer Services Directorate with regard to being expected to take on additional lines of work, often with little training and usually with no consultation.
Conference believes this amounts to fundamental redesign of the AO role – yet note that no grading review has taken place.
As such the GEC are instructed to –
Demand a complete job description detailing all work that any given AO role is expected to undertake.
Demand that be subject to a grading review.
Demand that full consultation takes place before any amendment to any given job description.
Motion 6 (Bradford’s motion, covering our identical motion)
This R&C Group Conference notes that, despite the passage of motion 18 last year, we have still yet to see any group-specific campaigning over pay. Whilst also reaffirming the resolution of motion 20 to avoid any link between pay and any revision of terms & conditions, conference therefore instructs the GEC to carry out the instructions of this motion as a matter of urgency.
Motion 14 (Bradford’s motion, covering our identical motion)
This R&C Group Conference reaffirms its opposition to the Attendance Management policy introduced by HMRC on 26 September.
The policy, which replaces flexible ‘consideration points’ for informal action with rigid ‘trigger points’ for formal action, amounts to enshrining and enabling the most mechanistic misapplication of the previous policy.
This will disproportionately impact upon disabled members, with the disability trigger point a poor substitute for the more reasonable approach of retroactively discounting disability related sickness absence.
It also risks increasing presenteeism, given the explicit disciplinary threat to those who call in sick, and therefore greater harm to the health and wellbeing of members.
Noting that the GEC opposed the new policy and established an Attendance Management Working Group to address it, Conference is disappointed that we have yet to see any result from this. Guidance for members and branches on tackling the policy is still yet to emerge months after the policy was introduced and there has been no campaigning activity to speak of.
Conference therefore instructs the GEC to act with urgency on this issue and launch a high profile campaign around the following concrete demands –
- That the trigger points for formal action are revoked;
- That all disability related sickness absence is discounted from any formal disciplinary process;
- That a policy built around improving health and wellbeing, in ongoing consultation with the union, is established in place of a policy which punishes genuine illness.
The GEC is instructed, as part of this campaign, to ensure that the working group –
- Produces guidance on dealing with and challenging the policy for members, including managers, and for branches in a timely fashion;
- Uses case studies of unjust management action, where members are willing to speak out, as an organising and agitational tool to fight the policy;
- Works with branches and with the NDC to encourage and support local disputes at the earliest possible stage where potential unfair dismissals arise, and to coordinate these across branches where possible;
- Keeps members across the Group regularly updated on the campaign as it develops.
This work should begin within a month of the close of Conference.
Conference censures the GEC for failing to oppose the new sick absence procedures.
Conference notes the new sick absence procedures have given licence to those managers who obsess over attendance to treat members, who suffer ill health, in an appalling manner.
Whilst the guidance allegedly provides managers with discretion – whether that is applied depends on the nefariousness or lack thereof within you management chain or through HR caseworkers.
Conference therefore instructs the GEC to seek the following amendments to the guidance:
- Absences related to accidents whether in or outside of work to be discounted.
- Absences related to mental health issues where the member is receiving new or altered treatment to be discounted.
- Absences related to sectioning under the mental health act to be discounted.
- The practice of holding formal meetings at the month 1 stage to stop.
- Members to have a right to be at or be represented at case conferences.
- PCS to challenge the changes to policy as a variation of contract.
Conference notes that the role of HR caseworkers within sick absence capability and C&D cases is ill defined and inconsistent.
Furthermore conference notes the complete lack of accountability of the caseworker, and the lack of any audit trail to test any innate prejudices and capability issues of the caseworker.
Conference notes that legally members are entitled to know who managers have spoken to in relation to their case and what the advice was. Yet conference notes that often such advice is not recorded and seldom properly attributed.
Conference instructs the GEC to seek the following:
- Clear terms of reference for the caseworker role in line with established case law
- Members to be advised automatically when their manager seeks advice from Civil Service Case Work.
- Members to be notified of what advice the manager is seeking.
- Members to be notified of the resulting advice and who gave it.
- A clear reporting process where the HR advice can be challenged.
Conference notes that whilst the staff survey potentially provides leverage in negotiations with official side, this is being negated by the disingenuous attempts by senior managers to influence members responses to provide a perverse bragging right to counter their inept attempts at running HMRC.
Conference notes that in some directorates this stretched from bribery to blackmail – as staff were offered inducements in the run up to the survey as management desperately tried to present a hint of compassion in the workplace to instances where members were threatened with negative consequences should the survey produce poor results for them.
Furthermore conference notes with some degree of hilarity the “HMRC Hashtag Proud” posters emails and corporate videos produced in certain directorates.
Conference holds that co-operation with the survey is only conditional – and based on the survey being conducted in an open and honest way.
As such conference instructs the GEC to –
- Advise the department that the above stated instances or similar examples of disingenuous behaviour in the run up to the survey will result in the withdrawal of co-operation with the survey.
- To support branches in local boycotts should they report concerns.
- To demand that the department instruct management to refrain from any attempt to directly influence how people complete the survey in the run up to its launch
Conference notes that whilst once being the “one way, our way the Pacesetter way”; HMRC has decided the pacesetter brand (was that all it was?) has served its time and quietly set it off to sail aboard a burning long ship towards the Valhalla of bad organisational ideas.
Conference notes that the department has committed to following a continuous improvement philosophy, whilst not yet defining what this means.
Conference recognises the benefits to our members of a genuine continuous improvement philosophy however is concerned that HMRC will simply focus on KPI as a way of driving more out of the staff.
As such conference instructs the GEC to negotiate for the following –
- That HMRC genuinely and without contradiction embrace the principles of William Deming the founder of Total Quality Management and Continuous Improvement – specifically that HMRC must
- Drive out fear from the work place, so that everyone may work effectively for the benefit of the taxpayer.
- Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
- Eliminate work standards (quotas. Substitute with leadership.
- Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers and numerical goals. Instead substitute with leadership.
To this end the GEC are instructed to demand:
- Individual and team KPI’s are abolished and that the only relevant target the department should have is at the end of the year how many people and organisations have paid the correct amount of tax, or received the correct amount of tax credit.
- That instead of focusing on reactionary targets like call handling times and post turnaround the department undertakes work to prevent the need for such contact through reacting to Real Time Information.
Motion 70 (Composite of Bootle and Edinburgh motions)
This Conference recognises the recent announcements that there will be changes to the PMR system from April 2017. We give credit to the many members and reps across the country who have fought tirelessly against this detested system since it was introduced.
The GEC must build on HMRC’s willingness to address the PMR failings and ensure the following.
- All new initiatives are discussed with PCS.
- There are no discrimination and equality issues within the revised PMR system and a commitment to address these immediately when identified.
- A firm agreement that there will be no connection between PMR and potential loss of jobs or pay.
- Lines of Business will adhere to the HMRC policies without introducing their own variations.
- There will be no mirrored PMR system where guided distribution or any of the other worst aspects of the previous system are simply rebranded.
- No league tables to be used by Lines of Business to try and compete against each other.
- Maximise the use of the simplified PMR for all staff.
- Adequate training and consolidation is a mandatory requirement to enable members to do their job effectively.
- Removal of the “wider contribution” requirement as this is regularly used to negatively impact staff.
- Complete removal of subjective “behaviours” from any future appraisal system
Given that HMRC seem keen to constructively consult with PCS on PMR, this Conference instructs the GEC to meet with HMRC representatives within 2 months of the end of this Conference and publish progress made to members after this meeting. The GEC shall also carry out a Branch consultation by 31st October 2017 to gather feedback on the impact of the changes and determine what further action may be necessary.
This conference notes that:
The Gov.UK website states ‘Your employer might offer you ‘suitable alternative employment’ within your organisation or an associated company… Your redundancy could be an unfair dismissal if your employer has suitable alternative employment and they don’t offer it to you;
ACAS state in its Redundancy Handling ‘Employers should consider whether employees likely to be affected by redundancy can be offered suitable alternative work. Where alternative work is available within the employer’s own organisation or with an associated company, the employee should be given sufficient details to enable him or her to decide whether to accept or not. The search for alternative employment should extend, if possible and appropriate, throughout the group of which the company forms a part’.
ACAS state elsewhere that ‘Finding suitable alternative work is part of a robust redundancy selection procedure’;
Thompsons state ‘Employers are required by law to look for suitable employment for their redundant employees. If they don’t, the dismissal is likely to be unfair’;
The employer of all civil servants is the Crown and not our department;
Our departmental redundancy arrangements do not have the Crown finding suitable alternative work as part of the selection procedure;
In some staff rundowns, although suitable alternative employment is available, it is not offered.
Given the above, this conference instructs the GEC to:
Ask for legal advice on the duty on the Crown and the department to offer suitable alternative employment;
Using this, to seek to change the departmental redundancy arrangements accordingly;
To keep the national union informed of progress (or lack of it) in getting the redundancy arrangements;
To seek test cases, if necessary, regarding the duty on the Crown to offer suitable employment; these to be referred to the national union for consideration.
This R&C Group Conference notes that HMRC is planning to roll out the Kcom telephony system across the Department, with all staff required to be logged in throughout their working day.
Conference also notes that the MIS Agreement, which provides protections to members doing telephony work in PT Ops, is being eyed up for dismantling by PT Director Mike Baker.
That these two things are in the offing at the same time is no coincidence.
Conference believes that the environment that the Kcom system fosters on telephony enabled sites, particularly through the excessive monitoring the idle codes facilitate, is that of a ‘digital sweatshop’. It is not for nothing that call centres have been compared to the ‘dark satanic mills’ of the industrial revolution and to the dystopian ‘panopticon’ prison.
Conference resolves that any workplace culture of over-monitoring and treating staff as somewhere between inmates and untrustworthy children must be vigorously resisted. The potential further roll out of Kcom and attack on the MIS Agreement present an opportunity to push back against that.
Conference therefore instructs the GEC to push for an updated MIS Agreement across the department which –
Prevents real time monitoring of staff MIS information
Removes the over-monitoring of staff by streamlining the available idle codes so that their only purpose is to prevent inbound calls when an advisor is not available and it cannot be used as a way to monitor our members’ every move
Secures and expands on the existing protections of the MIS Agreement for all PCS members
The push for this agreement needs to be supplemented with communications to members highlighting the adverse effects of over-monitoring and agitating against “contact centre culture”.
Conference is concerned at the drastic changes planned within the Personal Tax directorate, and the potential impact on tax payer records.
Conference is concerned with the chronic short term approach to planning; the bias in planning priorities towards whatever the Public Accounts Committee has complained about last; the lack of attention to work list often denying taxpayer money owed to them, whilst preventing us from acting on information they or their employer have provided.
Furthermore conference is alarmed at the “robotics” project; the impact of Personal tax Accounts on tax payer compliance; and other uses of “technology” to do the job cheaper, but with no evidence that it will be done to existing standards.
To this end the GEC are instructed to campaign to –
- Ensure that PT provide a plan that clearly demonstrates how all work will be undertaken.
- Ensure work lists are given equal priority to calls and post.
- Campaign for taxpayers to be guaranteed repayments of monies owed to them within 1 month of the department becoming aware of the fact.
- Ensure full disclosure of all reports / plans / reviews of projects and pilots related to robotics and bulk clearance of WMI.
- Ensure that the PTA compliments the service we offer the taxpayer, rather than forcing the taxpayer to undertake our work for us.
- Ensure that compliance undertake regular reviews of all employers with regard to the pay-rolling of employment benefits, and of Taxpayers’ PTAs to ensure this is not abused.
Conference notes the appalling state of industrial relations in PT – and the clear unwillingness of PT director Mike Baker to engage in meaningful negotiations.
Conference notes the future vision of PT appears to be best viewed through opaque glasses; with little certainty over job design, little clarity over how we will deliver our legal obligations to collect tax and no understanding on the part of directors how the PAYE and SA systems actually work.
Furthermore conference is appalled at the contemptuous manner in which anyone who dares speak out against the official line – that it will be a glorious, inspirational nirvana where staff voluntarily smile, taxpayers are well served, and senior management competent – is viewed.
Conference also notes that to date the GEC have failed to implement proposed changes to the PT BTUS committee constitution as outlined in BB 064-16.
As such conference instructs the GEC to seek a formalised industrial relations structure in PT with regular meetings at every level of management, and that:
These meeting should be recorded and the minutes circulated to members.
Should the department choose to block such a move this should be reported to members. In such an event the GEC shall discourage members from participating in other forms of consultation.
The GEC shall immediately implement the proposed changes to the PT BTUS committee constitution.
Conference notes with concern the exercise in Personal Tax aimed at removing reasonable adjustments from members who are unable to take phone calls due to health reasons.
Conference is deeply concerned at the way this exercise has targeted those with mental health related issues, through a discriminatory “triaging” process.
Furthermore conference is appalled that HMRC has lied to Occupational Health advisers about future roles in the department – denying the opportunity for OH to suggest non telephony reasonable adjustment.
Conference also notes with concern that secret case conferences are taking place between managers, HR and OH.
Conference instructs the GEC to:
Demand the end to case “triaging” to prevent discrimination.
Demand a full and accurate description of various AO roles is supplied to OH and is open to scrutiny by PCS and the member prior to any consultation.
Demand inclusion of the member and/or their representative in any case conference
Seek assurances that face to face consultation will take place when requested by the member.
Support a collective employment tribunal – for cases where discrimination, harassment or victimisation occurs.
Provide advice to members being forced on to phones through this process on asserting their rights under the health and safety at work act not to undertake work that will cause them harm.
Conference also notes that the department do little to address the fundamental health issues that are caused by call handling, with members exposed to abusive callers whilst being expected to take calls on every aspect of tax/tax credits, all the while being expected to hit idiotic call handling targets.
Conference therefore also instructs the GEC to:
Demand HMRC take a zero tolerance approach to abusive calls – whereby members can immediately hang up.
Demand an end to the use of call handling time as a measure of performance.
Conference notes that the department still has not revealed the location of the majority of buildings for the new regional centres; nor has it provided a clear vision of how its structures will fit into the new departmental structure.
Conference notes that this prevents the rigorous examination required to substantiate the department’s claims over how the new structure will work.
Conference notes that no directorate has provided detailed breakdowns on staffing numbers, or future roles – again preventing proper scrutiny of departmental plans.
Furthermore conference notes with concern that most of those involved in the high level planning of BOF have no background in taxation and as such are collectively not qualified to make strategic decisions on the UK’s tax collection or inspection.
Conference instructs the GEC to demand HMRC provide detailed plans on how the department is envisaged to operate in the future – this shall include breakdowns of staff by line of business and by grade.
Motion 123 (covered by motion 77)
Conference notes the impending moves of B&C staff to the DWP.
Conference notes that many members do not wish to make this transfer.
As such conference instructs the GEC to seek transfers to other PT directorates for any member identified as wishing to remain in HMRC.
Emergency Motion 1
That this Group Conference notes that the Public Accounts Committee report published on 28 April is highly damning of HMRC’s Building Our Future plans. It reaffirms PCS’s position that the plans are an overly costly exercise that will slash jobs, devastate communities and undermine the Department’s ability to carry out the work required of it.
Conference therefore welcomes the publication of the GEC strategy document, ‘Building an Uncertain Future.’ The approach set out in the paper offers a useful baseline for our campaign, although we do think that some elements can be improved upon.
In particular, Conference believes that more work needs to be done to fight for those areas where closures will have an adverse socio-economic impact but where they won’t necessarily lead to a gap as far as Compliance DMB and NES work is concerned.
It is of grave concern that under the ‘Key Principles’ section the GEC are proposing that HMRC extend the current proposals to include a larger number of Regional Centres and specialist sites. Conference believes this amounts to an acceptance of many closures and the loss of jobs for many members.
Conference believes that this presents problems such as PCS being seen as party to choices regarding which sites will be saved and which will be closed. It could also undermine some campaigns already underway that are trying to save all locations and make a case for no closures, no redundancies and no unnecessary job losses.
Conference instead reaffirms that retaining offices in these areas remains a key industrial demand, and that we will not sacrifice member there to secure additional regional centres elsewhere.
Conference also notes that despite representations there is no inclusion in the strategy for campaigning around Combined Authorities. These authorities have terms of reference to ensure central government funding is used to benefit all parts of their communities and not just the major city in each authority and could be invaluable in making cases for many offices to remain open with the potential to direct HMRC to alternative funding in order to do so.
Finally, Conference notes that the paper reiterates the commitment to build for Group-wide industrial action.
In passing Emergency Motion 1 last year, Conference accepted that there was work to be done in reaching the position where we could convincingly win a ballot. In the subsequent year, branches have engaged in a lot of organising work and we have seen our Group membership increase in that time.
The big test that remains is whether any ballot can pass the turnout threshold required by the Trade Union Act. Conference believes that the only way to know if we are able, is to meet that challenge head on by calling a ballot and putting in the necessary work on the ground to win it.
Conference therefore instructs the Group Executive Committee to –
Publish full details of its submissions to ExCom and the Chief Executive;
To incorporate into the strategy that they will write to local authorities covering closing offices informing them of HMRC plans affecting their communities and requesting they make representations to HMRC on our behalf;
To incorporate into the strategy that they will write to each Combined Authority Executive informing them of HMRC plans and inviting them to offer suggestions on retaining HMRC presence in towns and cities affected and asking them to make representations to HMRC on our behalf;
To agree an effective strategy to win a yes vote on over 50% turnout at its first meeting after Conference, and to take all necessary steps to ballot for action against the coming round of closures and redundancies.
Motions to Annual Delegate Conference
This conference recognises the risk of emerging changes to labour market and notes that employers in the NHS and the teaching sector are moving toward engaging Personal Service Companies as a way of reducing the tax owed to the public purse and we see the threat this would have to our ability to organise as a union should this spread to the areas our members are in.
The NEC are instructed to oppose the encroachment of this model of employment into our member’s workplaces and ensure that splitting the workforce in this way does not damage our collective bargaining arrangements.
A11 (Bradford’s motion, covering our near-identical motion)
This Annual Delegate Conference notes that, for the last few years, our union has been on the defensive – fighting battles on many fronts over stagnating pay, pension changes, attacks on our redundancy terms and job cuts and office closures.
Conference is clear that these battles need to be fought. We must resist at all junctures any attempt by the bosses to slash our hard won pay and conditions and defend the jobs of all members. However, Conference believes that it is not enough merely to resist things getting worse, and that we must go on the offensive to demand that things improve.
Conference therefore instructs the NEC to adopt the following demands –
Equal pay across the Civil Service. There should be one rate for the job at each grade, regardless of which department you are in, and this must be at least the most favourable current rate.
A pay rise of 10% following pay equalisation.
Improved terms and conditions. All civil servants should benefit from the most favourable annual leave, sick pay, attendance management and flexible working policies that are available across government.
The Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage as an absolute minimum for all workers on the government estate, whether directly employed or outsourced.
All private sector contractors (security, cleaners, IT, etc) to be brought in house on terms and conditions equal to those of civil service colleagues.
This Annual Delegate Conference, whilst noting the enthusiasm that has emerged on the left for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, agrees that no individual political party has an agenda that aligns with the interests of PCS members.
Conference further notes that the support we have been able to leverage from any individual politician is not indicative of their party as a whole, regardless of which one they’re in, and that any political party elected to form a government then stands in potential conflict with us as the employer of the vast majority of our membership.
For these and more reasons Conference agrees that formal affiliation to the Labour Party, or indeed any other political party, not only does not serve members’ interests but potentially directly conflicts with them.
Conference therefore instructs the NEC to, following supplementary rule 9.12, insert the following as supplementary rule 9.13 and renumber all subsequent rules accordingly –
“The purpose of the Political Fund is to pursue political activity where this serves the aims and interests of the union and its members. It is not to divert union funds in the interests of a political party. The Political Fund therefore cannot be used for formal affiliation to any political party.”
Political Fund rule C4 shall be amended to read – “No payments shall be made from the fund in respect of the affiliation by the union to any political party.” With the rest of that rule deleted.
E127 (Covered by A6)
This Annual Delegate Conference instructs the NEC to develop a strategy to address the increased use of digitalisation and automation across the Civil Service – including demands for reduced workloads and shorter working weeks without loss of pay as an alternative to job cuts.
E168 (Covered by A21)
The union has faced financial difficulty over the past 6 years as a result of a reducing potential membership base and attacks on the union specifically.
We have also maintained comparatively low membership rates. However, as the cap remains at £13.45 many of our better paid members pay less of a proportion of their income than our lower paid and part-time members.
With this in mind, conference agrees to make the necessary changes to add 3 additional levels to the monthly sub-rates at:
- 26,001 to 28,000;
- 28,001 to 30,000 and
The rates for these levels will be congruent to the percentage calculated for the existing bands.
The NEC are instructed to ensure all members affected by this change are on the new rates as soon as possible.
Emergency Motion 3
Conference notes the threat posed to our members by 5 more years of Conservative government. As such Conference instructs the NEC to offer as much support to Labour Party candidates as is allowable under current PCS policy. This should include issuing correspondence to members highlighting how they will benefit from Labour’s manifesto commitments.