Tag Archives: Privatisation

HMRC Must Improve: Jobs & Staffing Campaign

The Jobs & Staffing Campaign continues. Please read the update and attachments on the national PCS website

Members Briefing R&C/MB/09/14:

JOBS AND STAFFING CAMPAIGN BALLOT

STARTS MONDAY 28 APRIL

In January, PCS wrote to Lin Homer seeking centrally convened talks to reach an agreement on jobs and staffing that would address your concerns about a number of detrimental impositions and announcements that threaten thousands of jobs across HMRC. The reply from the Chief Executive made clear that she was unwilling to arrange a meeting to discuss your concerns.

Last month we wrote again to the Chief Executive, laying out more starkly your demands and highlighting a number of recent announcements, made without prior consultation or negotiation with PCS, which threaten thousands of jobs in HMRC. These include but are not limited to: the imposition of the discredited Performance Management system, the closure of all 281 enquiry centres, 3 voluntary exit schemes, the start of a consultation exercise to close 12 offices, privatisation of work in Benefits and Credits and Debt Management and Banking and a refusal to offer permanent jobs to over 3,000 members currently employed on fixed term contracts.

Since this second letter was sent we have been made aware of a decision to privatise post handling work, along with the announcement of the latest HMRC Business Plan which details further cuts and yesterday’s unilateral decision to scrap banked leave and vary leave anticipation and carry over arrangements, none of which have been subject to any consultation with PCS.

The Group Executive Committee (GEC) met yesterday to receive a report on progress towards achieving a Jobs and Staffing agreement with HMRC. Despite repeated attempts to secure meaningful negotiations, HMRC continue to refuse to meet with PCS. The GEC unanimously agreed that it is now clear that your demands cannot be achieved through negotiation alone and that there should be a ballot of all PCS members in HMRC.

The ballot asks all members to vote to take strike action and action short of strike in pursuit of our demands, which are:

  • An agreement on staffing to ensure that there are enough staff to do the work.
  • Permanent jobs for all members on fixed term contracts.
  • An end to all current privatisation exercises and a commitment not to outsource any HMRC work in future.
  • A guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and no compulsory moves beyond reasonable daily travel.
  • An end to office closures, and for HMRC to retain a visible face to face presence in our communities.
  • An agreement on workload – reducing stress, over-stretch and demands on workers.
  • An immediate scrapping of the discredited performance management system.
  • A reduction in line managers’ spans of command, to reduce pressure and to allow managers to focus more on staff support and development.
  • A fully funded HMRC tackling avoidance and evasion – but also putting public service delivery at the heart of everything it does.

The ballot will commence on Monday 28 April and will close on Friday 16 May 2014.

We are asking all members to reject HMRC’s vision of smaller, more flexible workforce concentrated in large urban centres. This will mean the closure of offices, forcing members to leave through aggressive performance management system, the offering of voluntary exit packages and an end to a public facing department through the forced migration of taxpayers onto online filing and correspondence.

We are asking all members to vote in favour of PCS’s alternative vision for HMRC which requires: adequate staffing levels to close the Tax Gap and to provide a quality service to the taxpaying public, a visible face to face presence in all local communities, fundamental changes to the management of people such as the abolition of oppressive performance management policies and the development of rewarding jobs which are manageable and achievable.

Previous campaigns in the Revenue and Customs Group have seen off privatisation in our Contact Centres, protected over 3,000 FTAs from compulsory redundancy, saved workplace nurseries from closure and secured additional funding which has saved thousands of jobs across HMRC.

We hope that Chief Executive, Lin Homer, and Chief People Officer, William Hague, will agree to talk to us and reach an agreement that will protect our jobs and allow us to carry our core work of providing a service to taxpayers and reducing the Tax Gap. However, if they don’t we need to take action to make the employer listen to us.

Branch representatives will be distributing campaign materials over the coming weeks, to explain more about our Jobs and Staffing campaign and how you can contribute to its success. If you want to get involved, speak to a local rep, or visit the R&C Group Campaign Pages

Together we are strong and together we can win. Vote Yes/Yes when your ballot paper arrives.

Paul Barnsley (National Officer)
On behalf of the Group Executive Committee
(16 April 2014)

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SAVE OUR SHARED SERVICES

Take action to support shared services workers sign the e-petition today

PCS members working in Shared Services centres provide essential services required by government departments, such as, finance, payroll, personnel, IT or HR and a range of other important functions.

The coalition government has already privatised Shared Services jobs in the Department for Transport (DfT), Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) and Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and privatisation plans exist for the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) to follow in 2015.

We are now beginning to hear of privatisation threats to members working in the Ministry of Defence, Home Office and Ministry of Justice Shared Services. Our primary concern is that members working in HMRC Shared Services across the HR, Finance and Commercial Directorates will also come under threat if this situation is allowed to continue unchallenged.

DWP and Defra staff outsourced in November 2013 to a company called SSCL, owned by French multinational Steria are now fighting redundancy threats as a result of the company announcing 50% job cuts. Some 500 posts are at risk including plans to offshore 200 jobs to India. So much for David Cameron’s assurances about creating jobs in the UK to boost the economy and the ‘re-shoring’ of work previously off-shored.

In reality, this government has forced departments to privatise and have endorsed work, which they describe as ‘low value’ being sent overseas.

PCS is mounting a major national campaign to seek to overturn moves to privatise and offshore work.

As part of this campaign PCS has this week organised a well supported parliamentary briefing for MPs and ministers.

Please support colleagues and the campaign by signing an e-action at: www.pcs.org.uk/saveoursharedservice and circulating the attached leaflet.

Click here to view the leaflet.

Clive BryantAssistant Group Secretary
Sharon LeslieGroup Secretary

R&C/BB/90/14

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HMRC Must Improve – Have Your Say

(Adapted from R&C/BB/79/14)

The staffing crisis in HMRC is pushing members to breaking point. Draconian sickness and performance policies are starting to bite. Privatisation plans in Benefits & Credits and in DMB remains a real threat to jobs and data security. Despite widespread condemnation from politicians, local communities and workers alike, HMRC are continuing with their discredited Enquiry Centre closure plans. Brewing membership anger at these plans now needs to be captured and aimed collectively and decisively at the employer.

A Jobs and Staffing specific weekly bulletin will be produced updating branches on progress. A Jobs and Staffing special edition of Oracle has been produced and will be out shortly providing important information on the campaign and how branches can play a crucial role in building support amongst members.

All our reps are working hard to deliver for members in their branches. The employers’ cynical attempt to undermine our democratic rights through the threats to remove check off and chip away at our facility time will not work as long we stick together and fight collectively in our common interests against an increasingly hostile employer. We remain committed to talking to the department positively about jobs and staffing in HMRC, however as the closure decision on the Enquiry Centres shows they are clearly not listening. The only way they will listen is if they feel the widespread anger that exists – including our ability to disrupt their plans. We can only do this in an organised and united way.

Your branch wants to know what ideas you have in tackling the issues we face and what action you, as members, are willing to take so we can help shape the national campaign. Please send us your comments and ideas to campaigns@pcssewrc.org.uk before  April 11th

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PCS Secures Major Parliamentary Debate On Enquiry Centres

A Westminster Hall debate took place on Tuesday as a result of PCS intervention

“The taxpayers most likely to be prevented from accessing the proposed new service as a result of the cost are the unemployed, those on low incomes such as migrant workers and pensioners, and child benefit and child tax credit claimants. Such taxpayers rely heavily on the free service currently provided by HMRC staff at enquiry centres.”Ian Lavery MP, 4th March 2014

Ian Lavery MP, a member of the PCS cross-party parliamentary group of MPs, secured a Westminster Hall debate on March 4th over the HMRC decision to announce the closure of all 281 tax enquiry centres on February 8th. MPs contributing to the debate, including John McDonnell, Jonathan Ashworth, Graeme Morrice and Mark Williams, made clear their opposition to the closures.

MPs also raised concerns about the possibility of 1,300 staff having their jobs threatened and the lack of support they have been given by their employer since the decision was made to close their offices last month. Members were only given two weeks to decide whether to accept an exit package, apply for an as yet undefined prospect of redeployment or one of the limited numbers of jobs in the new service, with HMRC reneging over previous commitments to holding 1-2-1 interviews to establish personal circumstances.

MPs are sceptical over the move to a service where people would be vetted over the telephone over whether they required a face-to-face appointment. Our parliamentary group chair John McDonnell MP warned that it would put even more pressure on call centres when: “HMRC is significantly failing its existing call centre targets already.”

On the morning of the debate GEC members met with Treasury minister David Gauke to raise our concerns about the closures. This meeting only came about after PCS made strong representations to ExCom following a previous answer to a question raised at PMQs in the Commons which suggested Ministers and senior HMRC officials were regularly meeting PCS regarding the pilot when, in fact, no meetings had taken place. The meeting lasted approximately 30 minutes and is the first such meeting PCS have been granted with the minister since he assumed office.

Despite the concerns raised by us and by MPs, the minister has responded that he believes the new services will allow better support to customers. We remain unconvinced and believe it is demonstrably better for staff and the public for the enquiry centres to remain open.

You can read the full text of the debate here

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140304/halltext/140304h0002.htm#14030469000001

And you can help by taking 2 minutes to complete our e-action here (please complete on your personal device and not from official computers)

http://action.pcs.org.uk/page/speakout/stop-the-closure-of-hmrc-enquiry-centres

Our campaign to defend the enquiry centres is part of our Jobs and Staffing campaign that demands:

  • An agreement on staffing to ensure that there are enough staff to do the work.
  • Permanent jobs for all FTA staff.
  • A guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and no compulsory moves beyond reasonable daily travel.
  • An end to office closures, and for HMRC to retain a visible face to face presence in our communities.
  • An agreement on workload – reducing stress, over-stretch and demands on workers.
  • An immediate scrapping of the discredited performance management system.
  • A reduction in line managers’ spans of command, to reduce pressure and to allow managers to focus more on staff support and development.
  • A fully funded HMRC tackling avoidance and evasion – but also putting public service delivery at the heart of everything it does.
  • No further privatisation of HMRC work or functions.

Organising to Win

 Whilst our ultimate aim remains to achieve agreement with HMRC through negotiation, we will, as always, need to also begin preparations immediately in case we cannot secure the commitments that we are seeking through negotiation alone. The GEC has prepared a comprehensive plan of activity to build for a ballot of all members across HMRC in the event that negotiations fail to deliver an agreement which we feel able to recommend to members.

If you support our alternative vision for HMRC and our campaign demands we urge you to contact your branch representatives to find out how they are supporting the campaign and how you can help.

John Davidson – Assistant Group Secretary
Vicki Searle – Assistant Group Secretary

R&C/BB/66/14

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