Socialist Worker

Tax workers walk out to stop job cuts that will cost us all

Julie Sherry hears from strikers about why we need more tax collectors

Issue No. 2309

Striking tax workers on the picket line in East Kilbride last week  (Pic: Drew McEwan)

Striking tax workers on the picket line in East Kilbride last week (Pic: Drew McEwan)

Around 60,000 tax office workers struck on Monday of this week. As the row over the rich avoiding tax grew, the PCS union members pointed out that they face 10,000 job losses and privatisation.

This would leave them with even fewer resources to chase down the fat cats. “Tax workers pay the price, while Cameron highlights Jimmy Carr and ignores the big Tory Party donors,” said Alex Wilson, East Kilbride Centre 1 branch secretary. “I wonder who the real comedian is here.”

Marianne Owens from Cardiff added, “This is about fighting austerity—our strike is essentially about being able to collect in tax from the rich.

“It’s also about building towards the action in the autumn. Mass coordinated action is the key, and we can’t wait till October.”

The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) walkout was solid across Britain. The spirit of international struggle was in the air on the Euston Tower picket line in central London.


Striking Spanish miner Segundo Menendez Collar joined the pickets. He argued the struggles against austerity are linked. “We see what’s happening to us as a result of an international crisis,” he told the pickets. “The resistance must be on an international scale too.”

A Greek journalist involved in the workers’ occupation at the newspaper Eleftherotypia also addressed the picket. She said, “The scale of the crisis we are seeing in Greece is going to come here too—we all have to keep fighting.”

Striker Andi Bridges argued a strategy to fight. “It’s got to be everybody out together,” he said. “We need a general strike. After today, we will be getting stuck into building for the big demo in October.”

Dave Plummer, the branch organiser, agreed. But, he stressed, “We can’t wait another month after that demo for the next strike. It needs to be bash, bash, bash.”

The strike goes to the heart of the question of who should pay for the crisis, he added. “David Cameron is doing nothing to close the tax loopholes—instead he attacks benefits for the poor. We’re striking because we think hospitals should get the money, not tax havens.”

Strike hits huge sites

In East Kilbride, the main tax centre for Scotland, over 2,500 workers joined the strike. Call centres were closed with a recorded phone message in place informing callers about the strike.

Over 8,000 workers are based in the Benton Park View office in Newcastle. There were upbeat pickets on every gate at the site.

In Cardiff there was a barbecue and guitar on the picket line. Strikers were joined by activists from several unions, the trades council and students.

Figure it out

  • £1.1 billion in tax has gone uncollected just because of HMRC job cuts, the Public Accounts Committee says
  • 30,000 jobs in the department have already been lost
  • £120 billion in tax is thought to be evaded or avoided in total every year, according to the PCS union

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Article information

Tue 26 Jun 2012, 17:32 BST
Issue No. 2309
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