Category Archives: News

Important Update- Attacks on PCS confirmed

Colleagues,
A special meeting of the Group Executive Commitee (GEC) took place yesterday (12th November) and considered some important developments in respect of our relationship with senior management figures. Recent Branch Briefings have described the breakdown of dispute resolution talks on 29th October and our plans to meet with the Chief Executive on 10th November. That meeting went ahead and, though initially fractious, ultimately led to PCS being invited to write to her reiterating our demands in the jobs and staffing campaign and our proposals to make progress on them.
A report on this was provided to the GEC which was meeting for the first time since agreeing to suspend an overtime ban for talks to take place last month. However, yesterday’s meeting also heard a worrying report from the General Secretary which set out in stark terms, the calculated attempts by HMRC to undermine the union and its members.
This development will be reported in more detail soon, but in the meantime please refer to the story which has now been posted on our website
The immediate task facing activists is to do everything possible to expose, and explain the significance of, this attack on the union. We can expect the HMRC communications machine to slip in to effect, while they deny us the same opportunity to convey our messages to members using internal facilities. Therefore, imaginative solutions will be required but please do not do anything which breaches existing guidance and might lead to a wounded employer finding an opportunity for retribution.
In highlighting the insidious attack on the union, we must explain to members, management’s motivation for doing so which can only be to remove us as a barrier to their plans to further erode job security, valued workplace conditions and access to high quality representation.
The GEC is in the process of arranging car park or off-site meetings at which the context for these developments will be described in more detail. Please do all you can to co-operate with the arrangements for those meetings and encourage as many members as possible to attend.
Finally, part of this attack is clearly intended to undermine the union’s ability to operate by withdrawing the means by which members pay their union subscriptions through payroll. We must therefore redouble our efforts to prepare members for the switch to a Direct Debit means of payments.
This can be done very easily and quickly via:
By telephone on 0800 317 464 from a land line or 0207 801 2670 from a mobile.
By completing the form attached to this email
Thank you for your cooperation.
Peter Middleman
Group Secretary
R&C Group
Tel: 0151-298-3900
Fax: 0151-298-9636
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Check Em Lads! – Please support!

November has become the month of facial hair growth for fundraisers around the UK, primarily raising money for testicular cancer charities.

What you may not know is that Rhys Delve, of our team of reps in Cardiff, has been directly affected by testicular cancer himself. In a selfless bid to help others, he is taking part in this year’s Movember challenge and needs your support.

Rhys has set up his own Just Giving page which allows you to donate via various methods to help him raise money for checkemlads, a charity that helps to promote awareness, and support for young men suffering cancer.

Rhys says on his Just Giving page:

I am raising money for this charity for Checkemlads.com Testicular Cancer Awareness and Support because for very personal reasons
On 18th December 2013, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer :-( I am growing my moustache with respect to this.

Please support your rep and fellow colleague by:

Visiting his Just Giving page and follow the on screen instructions: Click Here

Or send the message DELV80 £*, replacing the ‘*’ with 1, 2, 4, 5 or 10 depending on how much you are able to to donate, to 70070 to donate via your mobile device.

Don’t forget, using either method, if you are an income tax payer you can also ‘gift aid’ your donation to increase it’s value with no added cost to yourself.

Your generosity would be greatly appreciated.

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Unions Put Health & Safety on the Agenda

Unions play a vital role in helping to ensure that you, the workers, come first, and play an immeasurably important role when it comes to your health and safety.

Please visit this link on the International Trade Union Confederation’s website for more information.

Not a PCS member? Want to be a part of your trade union? Click here.

Already a member but haven’t yet prepared for the Direct Debit switch? Click here to be DD-Ready.

Protect your membership to help protect your health and safety rights.

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Use of social media

Advice to members

Members will be aware that HMRC have allowed limited access to social media sites via departmental IT systems. In these circumstances we wanted to remind all staff of their obligations to abide by Notice HR22011 “Conduct: HMRC and using social media” and the PCS “Standards of behaviour” and “Harassment protocol” guidance. This advice should be followed when posting from all devices, not just those linked to the Government Secure Internet (GSI).

Any comments which contravene the HMRC policy are likely to lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

If you would like to join the official HMRC PCS Facebook group and receive updates and briefings you can do so by sending your name (or Facebook username) and membership number to jimk@pcs.org.uk ,if you do not have your PCS membership number send me you National Insurance number so I can confirm you are a member of PCS in the HMRC group. You can follow us on Twitter @PCSRCGroup and receive updated briefings moments after they have been issued to branches.

PCS harassment protocol

JIM KNOTTS
Industrial Officer

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HMRC pulls out of dispute resolution talks

PCS responds to HMRC Chief Executives intranet message.

Earlier briefings have described the serious and considered decisions taken by the R&C Group Executive Committee in seeking progress on the issues arising from the jobs and staffing campaign. Members will be aware that we took the initiative in pursuit of that progress by suspending our campaign of industrial action short of a strike for a period of four weeks from 8th October.

Three meetings have since taken place and a fourth was scheduled for 10.00am today. At this morning’s meeting, held in Salford, we were hoping to receive the first of several written offers which would have included details of enhanced compulsory redundancy avoidance measures among other important industrial matters.

It is therefore with regret that we are able to confirm that the employer’s side have informed us that they no longer wish to participate in discussions which were progressing towards their stated aim of working “constructively with [PCS] to address the many challenges we face as a Department”.

The Chief Executive’s detailed intranet message, which appeared a few short minutes after our meeting broke up, contains a number of inaccuracies and misleading statements. She claims to want to avoid “a war of words” but the decision to publicly withdraw from what have been, up until this point, relatively productive talks and criticise the union with such hostility cannot be viewed as anything other than a declaration of intent on behalf of the employer.

The message goes on to say: “In this month’s Oracle, [PCS] say that their recent strike action in Dundee led to HMRC offering permanent positions to 39 people on fixed term contracts. This simply isn’t true. In fact we worked hard, as we always said we would, to secure permanent roles for nearly 1,400 FTAs right across the UK who wanted to stay with us. Those 39 FTAs would have been offered alternative roles anyway – the threat of PCS strike action made no difference.”

The truth is that we have already acknowledged that the 2,100 jobs secured on the 25th of June was a welcome consequence of our Jobs and Staffing campaign. However, what Lin chooses not to say is that the location of those jobs – determined without any recourse to or dialogue with PCS – left hundreds of FTAs at risk of redundancy, including all of those in Dundee and at other sites where no vacancies were created. Furthermore, the CEO’s claim that the prospect of action in Dundee made no difference does not stand up to even the most rudimentary scrutiny.

In order to fulfil its statutory requirements under redundancy legislation, HMRC was obliged to meet with PCS regularly from 90 days in advance of the termination date of the FTA’s contracts. Despite PCS raising the issue in every fortnightly meeting, which we can be evidenced by the published minutes from these meetings, no solution was neither offered nor provided by HMRC until 10:46am on 15 September. At that precise time – 76 minutes before members in Sidlaw House, Dundee were poised to take the action demanded by 95.8% of members in an office ballot – we received an email advising that jobs had been found in the DWP for those wishing to continue their employment with the civil service and that: “In order for these negotiations to progress to a successful conclusion for all parties, I am formally requesting that PCS call off the intended industrial action in Dundee this week. We are all working hard to ensure we do everything possible to identify suitable jobs for those who want them and how this is handled in Dundee is important to maximise the likelihood of success with these and similar discussions.”

Like any reasonable trade union PCS agreed to suspend the action as requested by HMRC. The chronology is straightforward: HMRC announce redundancies; HMRC fail to take adequate steps to prevent unwanted redundancies; HMRC fail to communicate the steps being taken to avoid redundancies; PCS ballot members in Dundee; HMRC find a solution to avoid unnecessary redundancies 76 minutes before members take action; PCS calls off the action. Those developments are accurately reported in the latest edition of Oracle which ExCom appear to have taken exception to.

Homer goes on to say: “All we want is a union that is prepared to engage with us on the basis of mutual trust. We don’t expect to agree on everything – but if we’re to resolve this dispute, PCS do need to make an effort to meet us part way.”

It is curious that the employer should choose these words to portray PCS as being unreasonable and lacking in trust. Again, the facts suggest quite a different conclusion.

On October 1, in the first meeting in advance of the formal talks on Jobs and Staffing, entered into by PCS following the suspension of our democratic mandate for industrial action, commencing a week later, the department’s negotiating team opened discussions by stating three things:

1)     Office closure and redundancies would be announced whilst the talks were taking place but the details could not be shared in advance with the union

2)      HMRC planned to announce the formal commencement of consultation aimed at ending check-off, the system whereby PCS pays the employer to deduct trade union subscription fees directly from wages

3)      HMRC wanted PCS to make an allocation of facilities time to our representatives based on 0.1% of paybill, and that this would mean that senior representatives and entire branches of the union would have no time to perform their duties until April 2015.

Despite this extreme provocation and bad faith, PCS did not walk away from the talks, maintaining the trust which the CEO takes so seriously and we continued to approach the negotiations with an open mind, working towards a long-term solution which would provide HMRC and PCS with a framework for engagement over all of the aspects of our Jobs and Staffing campaign and the future strategic direction of the department. We planned to present the outcome of those talks to our Group Executive Committee on November 12 for decision.

Contrast that with the behaviour of HMRC today, who have chosen to unilaterally and without prior notice walk away from those talks over a disagreement on the wording of an article in the union magazine.

Clearly, the message on the intranet today was not written in haste, and will be considered by some to form part of a wider, covert strategy to undermine workers in HMRC by directly attacking your union.

Lin Homer states that: “we’ll always remain open to talking with anyone who’s prepared to listen to our side of the discussion.” This is a commitment we fully intend to test at a scheduled meeting with her and her senior colleagues on 10th November and which we have been reassured remains in her diary despite today’s developments.

PCS remains willing to listen to HMRC and also to give our members’ side of the discussion.

We encourage all branches to share this briefing with members, step up the efforts to transfer members over to direct debit and continue to recruit new members to PCS.

Only together can we expose the employer’s true intentions and best protect the interest of members.

Lorna Merry – Group President
Peter Middleman – Group Secretary

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IT @ Work

Every time you log into your machine at work, you agree to an ‘acceptable use policy’ which allows the employer to monitor your input to ensure you are not engaging in any activity that could be harmful, malicious, in breach of the Data Protection Act, or bring the department into disrepute.

Everything you type into your computer keyboard, and every click of the mouse may be recorded and can be traced back to you. This is why you should always lock your workstation, even if you are leaving your desk for just a few moments, to prevent unauthorised access to customer data traceable to your profile.

There is another side to this, however. Although the employer’s guidance on acceptable use involves reasonable internet access during your own time, your usernames, passwords, and any other personal data you enter are recorded. Whilst we would not expect this data to be misused in any way, it means that any private data you input onto your workstation is not as private as you might think.

Therefore it is our recommendation that you do not use your workstation for any website that requires you to log in or enter any kind of personal data. This includes social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, online banking, and anything else that should remain private and secure.

If you do want to access websites like this, during your own time, then please feel free to come down to the Learning Resource Centre on the 4th floor where we have  computers available, independant of the employer’s network, for you to use. You will still be expected to abide by the same behaviours as you would at your workstation.

For details about your Learning Resource Centre and the benefits your Union Learning team can provide, please contact your rep, or click here.

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We all need a pay rise: Wednesday 15th October

Guidance for shift workers 14 to 16 October

This guidance is specifically for members who are rostered to work shifts during the strike action called by PCS for Wednesday 15th October. Members are asked to adhere to this guidance which supersedes any previous advice issued.

Shift workers are only being asked to take strike action for one shift.

Members will be called on to take strike action in the following priority order:

  1. a) Members who are due to work a shift that starts and finishes on the 15 October should not report for work for that shift;
  2. b) Members who are not working a shift entirely within 15 October and who are starting a shift on 15 October that crosses over into 16 October will be called upon not to report for work on the 15 October and not to work any part of that shift that crosses over into 16 October;
  3. c) Members who are not covered by ‘a’ or ‘b’ above and are due to work a shift that crosses over from 14 October to 15 October will be called on not to report for work at the start of that shift on 14 October and not to work any part of that shift that crosses over into 15 October.

If you require any further clarification on the guidance in this briefing please initially contact your branch secretary for advice.

R&C/BB/207/14

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Branch General Meeting

Thursday 16th October 2014 at 1.00pm to 1.30pm in the TY GLAS AUDITORIUM, PHASE II. 

General Secretary Nomination Meeting.

Every 5 years PCS union elects our General Secretary.

As part of that process your branch will be holding the nomination meeting where you have the opportunity to be involved in the democratic process by choosing who will go forward as the branch’s nominated candidate.

No facilities or paid time will be allowed for this meeting so it will be held as part of lunch breaks.

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