The employer contacted PCS on late afternoon on Tuesday to inform us they are withdrawing permission for PCS to use HMRC systems to cascade information with our members without prior approval from HMRC’s Employee Relations Team. We immediately responded by restating our legitimate concerns, seeking talks to clarify the issues and requesting that they reconsider. Unfortunately HMRC went ahead and communicated their decision widely without further discussion and we have been inundated with queries about what has happened and what this means.
The Department has stated that this ban is due to us asking members to await further advice from PCS on the issue of Industrial Action reporting. PCS issued a Branch Briefing (151/14) regarding an announcement that the employer had issued to staff on recording absence directly into Online HR. Members and Branches have contacted Group Office to ask what advice the union can provide on this announcement.
Subsequent exchanges with the employer have clarified their position. HMRC has stated that the content of some briefings has strayed in to areas that are prohibited under the terms of existing agreements principally the Employee Relations Agreement that states:
Industrial action and non-HMRC activities
Facilities provided for employee relations work in HMRC must not be used for the planning or conduct of any industrial action or for union activities outside HMRC unrelated to their specific role within the union.
What they are proposing is a system where the Employee Relations Team has sight of proposed Group mailings in future to ensure that the content is in line with the terms of the facilities agreement. They have assured us that they are not seeking editorial control.
No restrictions have been placed on reps ability to communicate with each other or individual members. This restriction applies to the publication of materials ‘cascaded’ to members such as Branch & Members Briefings and both Branches and the GEC will require clearance from the Employee Relations Team to issue such materials using HMRC systems until further notice. Materials should be sent to email@example.com
We are in the process of setting up a meeting with the employer to discuss issues around PCS communications and recording absence for Industrial Action. As the employer has clarified that the deadline for inputting absences from the recent action is 23rd July, we would hope that these discussions will enable us to provide advice to members who have raised concerns in good time to meet this deadline. However, it is clear that there are communications that we will want to issue that will not be acceptable to HMRC.
This means that we will need to urgently establish a way of issuing material without using HMRC systems if we are going to be able to communicate openly and honestly with members where we are engaged in campaigning activity.
- All Branches should provide us with a private email address/multiple addresses where we can send further PCS communications to. Every Branch is asked to do this as a matter of urgency. Please email Jim Knotts (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 0151 298 3911 with your details.
- Every member is asked to give us a private email address so that we can communicate with you directly. Please visit the website and click on member login. You will be asked to input your membership number and also give us your email details.
- Every member is asked to check our website www.pcs.org.uk (click on PCS where I work and then HMRC) on a regular basis.
- If you are on Facebook join our Group (PCS R&C Group) or follow our twitter page (@pcsrcgroup).
Please help us to keep in touch with you today and make sure the employer knows that the only way to end this dispute is through negotiation.
Please contact email@example.com if you have any further queries.
Lorna Merry Paul Barnsley
Group President National Officer
Note: We are also collecting email address and mobile numbers locally so that we can ensure we are able to communicate with you promptly about local issues. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, department, mobile number and, if different, the email address you would prefer us to use to let you know of any updates.