Today’s announcement from HMRC of office closures should come as no surprise to PCS members and activists. The decision underlines the department’s contempt for staff and the need to put up a serious fightback.
The announcement confirms that last year’s targeted Voluntary Exit offers were a prelude to closing down sites, despite the laughable insistence from HMRC at the time that this wasn’t the case. 22 offices are to close and staff who don’t jump will be shunted to the redeployment pool. The number of tax workers will continue to decrease as service gets poorer and the tax gap gets wider.
Fortunately, PCS Conference last year set policy that gave campaigning against office closures an explicitly industrial edge to it. With the Jobs & Staffing Campaign now top priority there is also the very real chance that by slapping something together to look busy just ahead of election season the GEC look like they will comply with conference policy for once this year in a spectacularly happy accident.
With branches being urged to hold members’ meetings next week, and a ballot on the cards, the union finds itself in a position to come out swinging. What’s important now is that we get it right.
With that in mind, we call upon the GEC now to announce the date for an industrial action ballot of all members over Jobs & Staffing – this has been ‘imminent’ for some time, but has yet to materialise. Now is not the time to be over-cautious, we are under attack!
We further urge the GEC, during the ballot period, to coordinate and support campaigning activity including but not limited to:
• A communication blockade of Lin Homer, with all staff encouraged to jam her email inbox and phone line so it can’t function for a day
• A collective, public presentation to Lin Homer of our campaign demands by members and reps at 100 Parliament Street
• Picketing David Gauke’s constituency office and/or home
• Coordinated flexi walk outs and/or walk-ins
• A mass protest at 100PS
• Road blockade protests in the cities where we have big offices
• Banner drops on HMRC office buildings
• Sit-in protests at Enquiry Centres and offices slated for closure
Our supporters currently on the GEC will be advocating for these tactics, and we would encourage members to put motions through their branches instructing the GEC in a similar fashion. We would also encourage members to organise such activities independently where they can if support from the GEC is not forthcoming.
The Jobs & Staffing Campaign is about fighting for a fully resourced HMRC, ending and if possible reversing job cuts. It is vital that we do not delay or hold back if we want to achieve our demands.