Civil Servants Union PCS call Tax Office Strike

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we had good support for the strike, especially at Wingfield House which
has been notified for closure, with about 80% supporting the action.

Dave Hansford, Portsdown and Vectis Revenue and Customs Branch, PCS branch campaigns organiser and vice chair

On 23 May we received notification of office closure, which would
mean over 500 staff moving to nearby Lynx House. Given how little office
space there is, this is clearly not true.

We have discovered the total staff figures for March 2015 would mean losing 420 staff, over a third of the total.

This would be one of the biggest cuts nationally. We want to continue
our campaign in defence of jobs, which we think is the best way to
galvanise support.

The total cut to HMRC of 10,000 jobs makes no sense. Official figures show a tax gap of £35 to 40 billion uncollected. PCS research suggests an even bigger figure of over £120 billion a
year uncollected. Even the government admitted extra staff equals extra
money in revenue.

We have campaigned over the impact to Portsmouth city centre of
losing such a large number of jobs. Wingfield House is in the Charles
Dickens ward, a highly deprived ward with large numbers of claimants
using the enquiry centre.Lynx
House is over three miles away which for those on benefits, tax credit
claimants and pensioners will be much harder accessing our services.
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HMRC members show their opposition to another round of job cuts and privatisation

  • Make the super-rich and famous pay their fair share!
  • No to the privateers
A PCS member working in Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
HMRC PCS members on the picket line in Shipley, Yorkshire , photo Iain Dalton

Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) members have again supported action to defend jobs and services in Revenue and Customs with a day’s strike on 25 June.

The latest revelations about the tax-dodging escapades of the rich
and famous emphasise the damage being done through the government’s
agenda of cuts and privatisation in the very department that could close tax loopholes if properly resourced and staffed.

The PCS have launched the Tax Justice for All campaign in order to fight a further 10,000 jobs going in HMRC. 30,000 jobs have gone already.

Even by the estimate of the public accounts committee this has resulted in HMRC losing the ability to collect £1.1 billion in tax. This figure will only increase if the government and the department ploughs ahead with its cuts programme.

This strike
will be the springboard for a longer term strategy of workplace
campaigning, backed with further action and activity – as well as
supporting our national campaign on pensions. Building strong and united
union branches will be key to winning this campaign.

Demands of the campaign

The demands of the campaign are:

  • No further job cuts
  • No compulsory redundancies
  • No privatisation of HMRC
  • Remove the draconian elements in the sick absence policy that disproportionately penalises our disabled members.

The union is also campaigning against the use of private companies Teleperformance and Sitel in HMRC call centres. These multinationals are undercutting trade union pay and conditions
by employing staff on inferior conditions and paying them at least
£3,000 less than the average earned by HMRC workers. PCS are organising to recruit these workers and fight for improved conditions.

The government
argues that as public sector jobs are run down, more jobs will be
created in the private sector. But PCS members are highlighting the
nature of some of these new private sector jobs.

The PCS campaign also encourages members to get involved in
organising local activity and present our arguments to their local MP.
These are outlined in the new report by Richard Murphy, the TUC’s
adviser on taxation: Why are they increasing the tax gap?

We say: protect and invest in jobs, end the private sector
involvement in HMRC, tax collection and a tax system in the interests of
the millions, not the millionaires. End financial inequality by closing tax loopholes that allow the rich
to avoid paying £120 billion in tax each year. Finally we support the
TUC demonstration against austerity on 20 October.

At the recent National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference, over
500 workers from the public and private sector agreed a plan of action
to ensure the 20 October national demonstration is bigger and better
than the one on 26 March. The demand was raised that this needs to be followed with a 24-hour general strike, involving both the private and public sector, to force this government to reverse its austerity programme.

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