Now PCS members working at HMRC vote “Yes” for action over privatisation

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More than 21,000 HM Revenue and Customs call centre staff could strike over plans to allow private companies to answer taxpayers’ enquiries, after a ballot by PCS members.

HMRC is planning to trial the use of private contractors in two contact centres from January 2012 to deal with calls about tax credits.

The union says privatisation poses a serious risk to the security of taxpayers’ information, and fears it could lead to further privatisation in HMRC and across the public sector.

Excluding only the judiciary and the security services, the government has already said it wants private companies to run more of our public services.

Instead of offering lucrative contracts to the private sector, the union says HMRC should invest in its own staff and put a stop to further planned cuts in a department already suffering from losing 30,000 posts since 2005.

In September, after a concerted campaign by PCS members, plans by multinational IT giant Hewlett Packard to offshore more than 200 jobs were halted amid similar fears over the security of the records of millions of people held by the Department for Work and Pensions.

In the HMRC ballot, 70% voted to strike and 86% voted for other forms of industrial action, on a 34.7% turnout.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Instead of cutting jobs and selling off our public services for private profit, ministers should be investing in their staff and ensuring they have the resources they need to help the public who rely on them.

“This strike vote shows tax workers have very real fears about allowing the private sector in to do their work and what this would mean for the security of the sensitive information they handle.”


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