More than 4,000 tax workers across the midlands will strike this Thursday (June 26) in a dispute over job cuts, the Public and Commercial Services union has announced.
The walkout, alongside 1,500 of their colleagues in Northern Ireland, forms part of a week of rolling strikes affecting HM Revenue and Customs offices as the union campaigns to halt the cuts and persuade senior officials to work with them to develop a robust case to government for a fully resourced department.
A spokesman said: “Years of successive job cuts have left the organisation unable to cope, with delays on telephone lines continuing, huge backlogs of post and private debt collectors being brought in to chase up tax credits overpayments.
“Enquiry centres across the whole of the Midlands have been closed meaning a devastating blow to services to the public.
“As well as cutting thousands more jobs, HMRC is continuing to close more of its offices – including all 281 walk-in tax enquiry centres, with a further 23 large sites across the UK facing imminent closure – and is planning to privatise more of its debt collection and post handling.”
The department is making more than 2,000 fixed-term workers compulsorily redundant despite its own business planning revealing a huge staffing shortfall.
Central to the dispute is also the imposition of a discredited and widely unpopular performance management system that places an arbitrary 10 per cent of staff each year at risk of disciplinary procedures and the sack.
The union is also considering other shorter duration walkouts and “good work strikes” to highlight the gaps in services, as well as other forms of industrial action such as a ban on overtime being used to mask staff shortages and refusal to assist plans to shift almost 2,000 staff to cover tax credits enquiry lines. Many of the staff being moved over would normally work on tacking tax avoidance and evasion.
The action comes as the union is holding a national consultative ballot of all its quarter of a million civil and public service members with a view to taking part in joint union industrial action over pay, expected to start in July.
Andrew Lloyd, PCS Midlands Regional secretary said: “We know that members of the public have continued to turn up to enquiry centres across the region even though they have now been closed. This is happening because there has not been any proper public consultation, we maintain if there had been the government and HMRC would have received massive opposition to the enquiry centre closures.”