Socialist Worker

Tax collectors walk out

by Patrick Ward
Issue No. 2283

PCS union members in Revenue and Customs (HMRC) struck for several hours on Monday in two separate disputes.

Some 56,000 HMRC members walked out from noon to 2pm over a change to sick leave. This would cut in half the time workers can take off with illness before disciplinary action is taken.

And 20,000 HMRC workers in personal tax operations continued the strike for a further hour.

This was against private sector contractors being employed at two contact centres, in Bathgate, Scotland, and Lillyhall, Cumbria, in a year-long trial.

This would involve sensitive information about people claiming tax credits being handed to private companies.

Over 30,000 jobs have been lost in HMRC since 2005, and the government wants to shed another 10,000 in the next few years.

Rather than bring in private companies, the PCS says that the government should use existing employees to fill the posts.

There are fears that this is an attempt at creeping privatisation of the service.

The walkout brought many workplaces to a standstill.

At Portcullis House in Glasgow the whole contact centre walked out—over a hundred workers.

Caroline, one of the reps there, said that there was a high level of support. “People feel they are under attack in so many ways—over their jobs, privatisation and sickness leave,” she said.

Marianne Owens at HMRC in Cardiff reported that dozens of workers joined two picket lines. “There was an exodus at 12 noon as everyone walked out,” Marianne said.

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Tue 13 Dec 2011, 17:13 GMT
Issue No. 2283
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