PCS members working for HM Revenue and Customs have voted for strike action over job cuts and privatisation (* and woman – blame The Beatles)

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Civil servants working for HM Revenue and Customs today voted for strike action over job cuts and privatisation.

The vote, involving the PCS’s 55,000 members in HMRC, comes as their colleagues in the DVLA this afternoon kickstarted a month of rolling strikes in the Department for Transport.

On a 33.3% turnout of HMRC members, 52.8% voted for a strike and 77.2% voted for other forms of industrial action. HMRC representatives will meet in the coming weeks to decide any plans.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “When reducing the budget deficit is supposedly the government’s number one priority, it makes absolutely no economic sense to cut ever more staff from the very department responsible for collecting the taxes that fund all our other public services. The government should be investing to improve services, tackle the tax dodgers and get our economy back on its feet.

“At the same time as cutting jobs and closing offices, we have real concerns about creeping privatisation in HMRC, with public money being handed to companies to make a profit. Alongside strikes in the transport sector, any action in HMRC will form part of our ongoing fight against needless and hugely damaging cuts by the government.”

The strikes in the DfT, and any industrial action in HMRC, complement ongoing national industrial action being taken by the union against cuts to pensions, jobs and pay, which included a strike across the civil service, health and education sectors on May 10th.

In HMRC, the union is fighting plans to cut a further 10,000 jobs from the department by 2014/15. Since 2005 when the department was formed, 30,000 posts have been cut and the union says this means there are not enough resources to collect all the taxes that are due.

Analysis by tax expert Richard Murphy shows more than £120 billion is lost to our public finances every year through evaded, avoided and uncollected tax.

Last month MPs on the public accounts committee said more than £1 billion more in tax could have been collected if HMRC had not cut so many staff, adding: “The department must consider whether further staff cuts will deliver value for money for the taxpayer.”

The union is also opposed to a year-long trial using private companies Sitel and Teleperformance to handle tax credit enquiries in two contact centres – Lillyhall, Cumbria and Bathgate, West Lothian – at a cost of £4 million.

The pilots started in February and the union fears they could pave the way for further privatisation in the department.

(* and woman – blame The Beatles)

 


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