Socialist Worker

Revenue and Customs strikers slam sell-offs

by Patrick Ward
Issue No. 2288

Revenue and Customs (HMRC) workers struck on Tuesday against privatisation. Some 20,000 PCS union members took action.

The strike was on the deadline day of self-assessment tax returns. HMRC has been forced to extend this by two days.

Marianne Owens at HMRC in Cardiff braved the cold to picket alongside a dozen other workers and a roaring brazier.

“It’s going well,” she said. “The floors we work on are empty, other than the managers. And we’ve had a lot of support from other workers.”

Two companies, Sitel and Teleperformance, are to run call handling trials at tax credit contact centres in Bathgate in West Lothian and Lillyhall in Cumbria.

“They spent £4 million on the trial—more than they would have spent on staff,” Marianne said.

“If they get this through we’ll see widespread privatisation of HMRC.”

The average pay for state employees at HMRC is around £18,000. But private sector contractors are on as little as the minimum wage.

There are also concerns over handing personal data to private firms.

Many strikers raised the issue of the wider fight against the Tories.

“Lots of people are stopping to say we need another big strike over pensions,” Marianne said. “People want more action.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said, “Ministers should be investing in their staff and tackling the billions in tax avoided and evaded by the super-rich.”

HMRC workers last walked out on 16 January.

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Article information

Sat 4 Feb 2012, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2288
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