HMRC has recently announced that they will be reducing the number of offices from the current 170 sites (already slashed from 900 in 2006) to just 13 sites, with four Specialist offices around the country, by 2021. Martin Page, PCS rep in Leicester (personal capacity), reports on the latest Tory attacks on the public sector.
HMRC has recently announced that they will be reducing the number of offices from the current 170 sites (already slashed from 900 in 2006) to just 13 sites, with four Specialist offices around the country, by 2021.
Although these plans have been on the cards for a while, it still came as a major shock and a bitter blow to PCS members in many smaller offices in cities and towns, including Leicester and Sheffield who, despite being amongst the largest 10 cities in the UK, will, if HMRC are successful, lose 700 and 600 jobs respectively.
The jobs lost amount to 15,000 nationwide if the Tories have their way. And this figure doesn’t even include any of the further cuts taking place in the next five years as the Tories slash public spending. This is a cut from 106,000, when Customs & Excise were merged with the Inland Revenue in 2006, to just 51,000 in 2021.
The plan to build brand new offices in some city centres (at a major cost) that will hold between 1,500 and 9,000 proves it’s not about savings, but more to do with the fact that the disastrous handover of all the HMRC’s estate to the tax-dodging Mapeley Group in 2009 means that the majority of leases will have expired by 2021.
PCS responded quickly; however, the Revenue & Customs Group, which represents 37,000 staff, has been caught short, with the employer cleverly attacking the union and ‘playing a blinder’ in the words of one national rep.
Members meetings have been called around the country, and in Leicester, over two working days following the announcements, over 450 PCS members met and voted unanimously to endorse the union’s strategy of fighting all closures, moves and job cuts, and giving local branches the right to organise their own campaigns and take industrial action. The fight to save HMRC jobs in Leicester was enthusiastically endorsed.
Already, messages of support from MPs, trades councils, and union branches have been received, and the branch committee will meet to thrash out a campaign to save Leicester and the £14 million (at least) that would be removed from the local economy if the jobs move to Nottingham.
PCS has an existing mandate for action and had suspended it in good faith while dispute resolution talks were in progress. It should now be completely clear that the employer intends to pursue its course of decimation. This should be met, for a start, by the re-imposition of an overtime ban whilst full discussions are held within branches about what kind of action can be delivered.
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