Welcome to the PCS East Kilbride
Revenue & Customs Branch
HMRC Stress Survey Announced
Staff given opportunity to voice concerns
Previously agreed by members at Revenue & Customs Group Conference in 2016, the Group Executive have spent 18 months negotiating with HMRC management on launching an HSE Stress Survey.
The purpose of the survey is to gauge the current feeling among members and how staff can be better supported at a time when stress and mental health related absences continue to be one of the main conributors to the Department's absence figures.
Despite this HMRC have ultimately refused your Union to use departmental systems to consult members on this important issue. Instead the survey will now be issued to staff's private email addresses.
If you haven't previously provided PCS with a private email address then it is important that you do so now to have the opportunity to take part in our survey. It's quick and easy to do by either;
- Logging into i-Membership and updating your contact details online
- Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, membership number or national insurance number and your preferred private email address
- Calling PCS Membership on 0800 317 464 with your membership or national insurance number and providing your preferred private email address
The survey can also be accessed here and will remain open until 28th February. Don't miss your chance to take part and help show how HMRC staff are truly feeling.
Hate Crime Survey Launched
STUC seeks workers' views on hate crime
As part of the Scottish Government's consultation on hate crime legislation, the Scottish Trade Unions Congress (STUC) has launched a survey aimed at workers' in Scotland.
The STUC have a number of Equality Committee's across those under-represented communities who work throughout the year to ensure that those voices that are typically less visible are heard throughout the Scottish Trade Union movement.
The Committee's have raised concerns about the issue of hate crime, highlighting examples of how hate crime has affected them in their private and working lives and making clear that the issue of hate crime is indeed a workplace issue.
In response, the STUC is seeking the views of all Scottish workers' on what hate crime should include moving forward, their experiences of how hate crime can happen in the workplace and how it is dealt with by employers.
These responses will then be collated to form the STUC response to the Scottish Government consultation which closes on the 8th January 2018.
The survey takes around 10 minutes to complete and can be found here. Members are encouraged to take part and to share the survey among their friends, family and colleagues to ensure the most wide ranging response possible.
For more details about equality within either PCS or the STUC then members can contact any of our Branch Equality Officers who will be able to assist.
St. Andrew's Day Anti-Racism March & Rally
Saturday 25th November, Glasgow
The Scottish Trades Union Congress will be hosting this year's St Andrew's March and Rally on Saturday 25th November. The March will assemble from 10:30am at Glasgow Green for an 11am departure and will then conclude with a Rally at Adelaides Auditorium, Bath Street, G2 4HZ.
PCS is a long standing supporter of this event and all branches and members are encouraged to come along on the day. We will be in attendance with our Branch banner to show our support in the continuing fight against racism in Scottish society and we invite all members, family and friends to join us.
If you would like more information, or if you are interested in assisting with the banner or stewarding the march then please contact us at email@example.com or speak to any local rep who will be able to assist.
Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture 2017
Thursday 5th October, Glasgow
After ten years of austerity cuts, outsourcing, privatisation and wage freezes, public services are now reaching crisis point. In Scotland over 10,000 civil service and 40,000 local government jobs have been lost, seriously affecting the delivery of even adequate standards of service.
Workers' morale is at an all time low and recruitment of new staff is becoming more and more difficult. Under the guise of 'cutting red tape' and increased efficiency, service users' and providers are being put at risk. We need a public sector for the 21st century, properly funded with fairly paid staff and democratic ownership.
As part of the fith annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture PCS General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, will be delivering the guest speech outlining the case for the above as well as reflecting on his experiences over the past year within the NHS following a successful heart transplant late last year.
Book your tickets for this event through the Jimmy Reid Foundation website here.
Compensation Scheme Under Attack...Again
Cabinet Office seek to cut staff terms despite recent Court defeat
In July, the High Court ruled that in 2016, PCS had been unlawfully excluded from negotiations on proposal to cut the CSCS. The court quashed the 2016 CSCS, which meant that the more generous 2010 terms applied. This means that many civil servants made redundant since November 2016 will benefit from higher redundancy pay.
The Cabinet Office was granted grounds to appeal the decision, but has now withdrawn that appeal, announcing today (25 September) that they plan to consult unions over the next 6 weeks on further cuts to the compensation scheme.
Following the court case, PCS has been in correspondence with officials and arrangements to meet at ministerial level to discuss the implications of the case are being finalised. It is disappointing, therefore, that the Cabinet Office pre-empted those discussions by reopening consultation.
In upholding the PCS case against the previous consultation exercise, the judges stated:
“..it is an obligation to consult in good faith and in a spirit of willingness to consider counter-proposals put forward by any representative trade union, such as the PCSU, with a view to seeing if, after giving them consideration, they might be accommodated in or alongside any proposed changes to the CSCS which the minister proposes to make.”
PCS is concerned that by rushing into a further short consultation period on cuts to the CSCS, the Cabinet Office is not approaching the consultation in “good faith” as required by the law.
We remain determined to oppose detrimental changes to redundancy pay, and will do so through consultation, negotiation with the Cabinet Office, political interventions and any other available route.
PCS Green Forum 2017 - Building in our workplaces for Just Transition and Energy Democracy
Saturday 4th/Sunday 5th November, Leeds
All PCS members are invited to attend the annual PCS Green Forum which is due to take place on the weekend of the 4th and 5th November and will be held at the Novotel Hotel in Leeds.
The forum is aimed at members interested in becoming active in green issues or who is already involved in green campaigning or bargaining, delegates are welcome regardless of previous experience in the area of green issues.
The green forum will look in detail at the ideas put forward in PCS' 'Just Transition and Energy Democracy: a civil service perspective' which was launched at this year's Annual Delegate Conference. The event will include a panel session including former MP Alan Simpson, Academic Linda Clake and a PCS member who works in nuclear decommissioning.
Additional sessions and opportunities for delegates to share their own thoughts and experiences will also take place over the course of the Forum weekend.
Anyone interested in attending should complete the application and supporting statement forms below. Costs of travel, accommodation and meals will be met by PCS centrally with childcare facilities available, dependent on need.
The closing date for receipt of application forms is 5pm on Friday 29th September and all applications shoudl be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Green Forum - Application Form.doc
Microsoft Word document [95.5 KB]
Tax Free Childcare Chaos
Privatisation causes havoc in HMRC (again)
Members will no doubt have caught sight of stories in the press this week criticising the Department’s roll out of the Tax Free Childcare program. Following discussions with HMRC on the current state of the project and plans for the near future, the latest update we have is detailed below.
Ministerial Guarantee Not Met
The Ministerial Guarantee to clear all cases by Wednesday 23rd August has now passed. There are over 2,600 cases still outstanding, leaving parents in a state of limbo. Issues with the IT systems used by ATOS & HMRC resulted in 25,000 applicant’s cases for Tax Free Childcare getting “stuck”. The cause of this is still unclear despite 8 weeks of investigation by HMRC, ATOS & the respective business partners. The issue has affected 5% of all applications. Due to a lack of funding, IT planning work is being reworked to prioritise scheduling fixes with HMRC systems. The Department has received 1185 complaints (a rate of 30 per day). 90% of these complaints are centred around issues with the IT systems used to apply for Tax Free Childcare.
In addition to staff from Liverpool & Edinburgh currently moved over to Tax Free Childcare to assist with the backlog, 22 AOs & 3 Band Os will be sourced from the Washington site. A request for an additional 25 FTE from Grayfield House in Edinburgh is also being mooted. All loaned staff will stay with Tax Free Childcare until the end of December. Plans to recruit new staff are being brought forward, with interviews to take place in mid-September, while plans to utilise Surge Apprentices in October are being implemented. Overtime is also being used to facilitate the clearing of the backlog.
Clearly, the detriment to thousands of parents unable to complete their claims for Tax Free Childcare so close to the start of the school year is generating criticism from both the press and PCS. Members will recall the Concentrix debacle earlier in the year, where attempts to privatise parts of the Tax Credits service resulted in huge problems for staff and the public. After intervention by PCS, the Department suffered public humiliation, media scrutiny and eventually had to cease the failed privatisation experiment, bringing the Tax Credits work back in-house.
PCS will continue to push the Department to cease all attempts to privatise HMRC services, invest seriously in IT, recruit enough staff to deal with demand rather than robbing Peter to pay Paul by “flipping” staff between business units and to cease using overtime to mask job shortages.
PCS would welcome all feedback from members involved in Tax Free Childcare or affected by the issues detailed above. Please contact email@example.com with any feedback, questions or comments, all contact will be treated in strict confidence.
Cuts to Compensation Scheme Quashed
High Court releases full judgment over CSCS cuts
On 18 July PCS won a judicial review at the High Court in regards to imposed changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS), ruling that the government failed to consult our union with a view to reaching agreement as required by law.
The Court has now released its full decision, reversing the cuts made to the scheme, refusing the Government a right of appeal as well as awarding full costs against the Government. This stunning and comprehensive victory means that the more generous 2010 civil service compensation scheme has been reinstated, and will apply to those who have left on redundancy since the new terms were imposed.
Cuts to redundancy pay
The government had chosen to slash civil service redundancy pay by about 30% just 6 years after the current civil service redundancy scheme was introduced in December 2010, in an attempt to reduce the costs of cutting staff.
The terms in 2010 were described by then Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, as "fair, affordable and sustainable; they offer protection to the lowest paid and those nearing retirement, and put a cap on the total amount which can be paid out to any one individual."
PCS, along with Unite and the POA, refused to be bullied by the Cabinet Office into agreeing the cuts to civil servants' redundancy terms as a pre-condition of entering talks and we were excluded from the talks.
With the civil service planning thousands of job cuts and office closures, PCS firmly opposed cuts to redundancy terms. PCS members voted to reject the government's huge cuts to their civil service redundancy pay in a consultative ballot.
The Cabinet Office therefore refused to negotiate with unions representing the overwhelming majority of civil servants.
Regrettably two smaller civil service unions, FDA and Prospect, agreed to the pre-conditions, and talks on cutting redundancy terms took place with them.
The court has refused the government leave to appeal, stating that any appeal would not have real prospects of success. However the government may try to overturn that ruling in the Court of Appeal. They may also decide to open consultation on a new redundancy scheme. However, while we will always be willing to negotiate, we will continue to oppose arbitrary cuts to civil service redundancy payments; and this time we cannot be excluded from negotiations.
PCS as a Union will always stand up for the hard won terms and conditions of our members to ensure they receive the best deal possible. If you're not a member then join PCS today. It takes just a few minutes and ensures you are protected in your workplace.
Employment Tribunal Fees Scrapped
Government defeated in court (again)
Following on from PCS' High Court victory over the Government's handling of changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme, the Government has again been defeated, this time in the Supreme Court, in regards to their imposition of Employment Tribunal Fees.
PCS opposed the Tory-Lib Dem coalition when it brought in fees of up to £1,200 in 2013, arguing they would restrict access to justice for workers.
Ministers have also cut legal aid, closed courts and tribunal centres, and cut the facility time our representatives can spend resolving workplace issues without the need to rely on legal proceedings.
In today’s ruling on the case brought by Unison, the Supreme Court judges described the fall in claims as “so sharp, so substantial and so sustained” they could not reasonably be afforded by those on low to middle incomes.
They also said fees had deterred genuine cases, adding access to justice is of value to society as a whole because rulings can set important legal principles.
In response, the Ministry of Justice said it “will take immediate steps to stop charging employment tribunal fees and refund those who have paid”.
Our General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is a major victory for trade unions and the people we represent and the case once again exposes the extent to which the Tories treat workers with contempt.
“We will be taking immediate legal advice about seeking redress for our members who were affected by this.”
PCS are still awaiting a remedy decision from the High Court after it ruled the government had acted unlawfully when making cuts to the redundancy terms of civil servants last year.
Further information on this and the implications of today’s Supreme Court judgement will be published as soon as it is available.
In the meantime, these decisions highlight the importance Trade Union's continue to play in protecting workers in today's society. If you're not a member, you can quickly and easily join PCS today by visiting the PCS website.
PCS achieve major victory over CSCS at High Court
Government defeated over imposed changes to staff redundancy pay
Following our Union's victory over the failed negotiations in regards to changes imposed on the Civil Service Compensation Scheme, PCS today (18th July) issued the following statement,
"It is a major blow for Theresa May’s weak and unstable government and further evidence of how the Tories treat their own workforce and other public servants with contempt.
We successfully took a judicial review after being excluded from negotiations over changes to the civil service compensation scheme – which governs voluntary and compulsory redundancy terms.
Civil servants made redundant in the last eight months could now have a claim for compensation after being left thousands of pounds worse off.
In court we argued the former Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer – who lost his seat at the general election – failed in his legal “duty to consult with a view to reaching agreement” by excluding us from more than a dozen meetings attended by most of the smaller unions.
After initial talks on proposals for new, worsened terms in early 2016 a senior Cabinet Office official wrote to the unions in June of that year to propose a further round, but stated:
“I want to be clear that attendance at any further discussions will be taken as a clear commitment that those unions engaging in the talks have accepted that the proposal above will form the basis of a reformed, negotiated, set of arrangements that their relevant executives can recommend acceptance to their members in any ballot.”
Along with the Prison Officers’ Association and Unite we refused to agree to this, so were excluded. All the other civil service unions agreed to take part on that basis. The judges conclude it was “not surprising [the three unions] were unable to give such a commitment”.
In the judgement handed down today, Lord Justice Sales and Mrs Justice Whipple add: “There was no basis on which the Minister was entitled to exclude the PCSU from the consultation.”
On the Cabinet Office’s claim that inclusion would have made no difference, the judgement states:
“It cannot be said that it is highly likely that the outcome would not have been affected if the PCSU had been allowed to participate in the second round of discussions, as it should have been.”
“The safeguard for workers is that they will not have their rights to compensation benefits diminished or removed without a genuine attempt first having been made to secure agreement on that specific issue with their union representatives. These provisions are not concerned only with vague agreements in principle.”
Our general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is yet another example of how Tory governments treat their own workforce and other public servants with utter contempt. Ministers must have known they were breaking the law by excluding us, yet they went ahead anyway.
“There is no way we would ever allow ourselves be chained in negotiations where the terms are rigged and the outcome fixed in advance, and no right thinking person could expect us to.
“In trying to write us out of the script the government only succeeded in revealing how weak and vulnerable the Tories really are, and how their divide and rule tactics are just a recipe for instability.
“This judgement is a major victory for us and all civil servants and shows the value of belonging to a trade union that is prepared to fight back.”
PCS Respond to Imposition of 2017/18 Pay Deal
Union rejects derisory, below inflation pay offer
HMRC have today announced their intention to impose yet another below inflation pay off on all grades from AA to G6.
Due to the unexpected general election and purdah restrictions, HMRC were unable to give any pay offer to PCS until mid-June, since then PCS negotiators have pressed hard for a deal that delivered either a 5% increase or £1200, whichever was greater, in line with national PCS policy set at ADC 2017. PCS believe that these are reasonable demands in light of the current rate of inflation and the effect that the long term pay freeze and cap have had on PCS members standards of living. PCS are aware that over the last decade of austerity and pay restraints, living standards for PCS members have plummeted with a drop of pay of at least 17% against inflation.
Disappointingly HMRC have been unable to meet PCS' demands, citing the Tory Government imposed 1% pay cap.
On that basis, PCS have strongly rejected the offer which has now been imposed.
PCS members will be aware of the current political debate around the 1% pay cap and intense speculation that an Autumn Budget may relax the cap. Members will also be aware that some areas of the public sector, specifically the Fire Service who like HMRC staff are not subject to National Pay Review Boards, have recently been offered a deal of 2%. PCS have gained assurances that if there is any relaxation of the 1% cap HMRC will re-open talks on pay with PCS.
PCS believe that continuation of the 1% pay cap is an affront to our members who provide an essential front line public service. The cap has also placed restrictions on HMRCs ability to address inequalities and the Gender Pay Gap. Many of our members are reliant on benefits due to the poverty pay that they receive and which has deteriorated to crisis levels over recent years. It is clear that the current government is now divided in its' opinion over a continuation of the pay cap and public sector austerity agenda.
Over the following weeks PCS will be releasing details of our National Pay Campaign Strategy. Members should ensure that they register an up to date personal email address with PCS to keep up to date on further developments due to restrictions on what information will be able to be circulated via the Departmental email system.
Members with any questions should contact a PCS rep in the first instance who will be able to assist.
Scrap the Pay Cap Demonstration
Saturday 1st July, London
PCS is asking members to support a major anti-cuts demonstration in London on 1 July.
The event, organised by the People’s Assembly and supported by all major trade unions, including PCS, calls for an end to the 1% public sector pay cap, and demands a decent health service, education system, housing, jobs and living standards for all.
The general election on 8 June shows there’s huge enthusiasm for an alternative to the Conservatives' failed policies of austerity.
The Tories have no mandate for further attacks on public servants’ pay and jobs and we must all join together to send a clear message to the government that more austerity will be hugely damaging for the vast majority of us.
Protests have sprung up across the country since the general election and there are many more planned in the next few days. On 1 July, trade union members and campaign and community groups from all over the country are coming together in one massive show of strength.
Demonstrators are marching against another 5 years of a Tory government committed to austerity, cuts and privatisation. Join us, bring your friends and spread the word.
Details of the march
Marchers are asked to assemble by noon, at BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA. The march is expected to set off at 1pm and make its way to Parliament Square. The PCS form-up area will be clearly marked by the PCS inflatable yellow balloon.
PCS regional and national offices are organising transport where there is sufficient demand. Members are asked to contact the Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org to register their interest.
What you can do
Bring your family, friends and colleagues to the demo
Tell us why you oppose austerity and what lifting the pay cap would mean to you, email email@example.com
Share the event on your Facebook page
Volunteer to be a steward, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Reps should read the branch briefing about the demo
We encourage all members to join us and play your part in making the 1st July a successful and effective day of protest.
Save the EHRC Campaign
Petition launched to reinstate staff sacked by email
In February this year staff based in the Equality and Human Rights Commission(EHRC) were in the process of taking strike action against proposed compulsory redundancies triggered by budget cuts under the Government's austerity agenda.
While out on strike, eight members of staff were sent redundancy notices to their work email addresses. Many of those impacted have protected characteristics under the Equality Act and several were also elected Trade Union representatives and yet EHRC management have continued to follow through on the forced redundancy of staff.
This is despite the fact that the EHRC has over 40 vacancies that these displaced workers could fill but refuses to do so. As we face up to Brexit and possible attacks on Human Rights law it has never been more important that the EHRC is fully resourced to protect those most at risk from discrimination and attack.
Staff at the EHRC have recently concluded 20 days of rolling strike action across the UK and as part of their continuing campaign members have also now launched a petition to call for the reinstatement of staff affected by the EHRC redundancies.
We encourage all members to sign and share the petition as widely as possible and send a clear message that PCS members and our allies believe in equality and human rights. The petition is available by clicking here.
Civil Service 'Purdah' guidance ignored
PCS write to HMRC Chief Executive over decison to disregard 'Purdah'
Clear guidance ignored
What does this mean?
Chief Executive challenged
2017 Group Executive Committee Election
Members will shortly be receiving their ballot papers to elect your HMRC Group Exectuive Committee for 2017/18. For the first time this year members who have registered a personal email address will also be able to cast their votes online.
The candidates listed below are recommended by the Branch Executive Committee as being those we believe will serve the best interests of our members and we recommend that you use your vote to elect these candidates.
For more information regarding GEC elections, including instructions to order a replacement ballot, then click here.
2017 National Executive Committee Election
Members will shortly be receiving their ballot papers to elect your National Exectuive Committee for 2017/18.
The candidates listed below are recommended by the Branch Executive Committee as being those we believe will serve the best interests of our members and we recommend that you use your vote to elect these candidates.
For more information regarding NEC elections, including instructions to order a replacement ballot, then click here.
International Workers Memorial Day
Friday 28th April
International Workers Memorial Day is observed each year on the 28th April under the slogan "Remember the dead, fight for the living".
The purpose of the day is two fold.
1) It is about remembering and paying respect to those who have died, been injured or been left unable to work due to illness in relation to their profession, and,
2) To ensure that the tragic loss and suffering endured in the past and to this day is used to refocus and reinvigorate efforts to ensure the work and workplaces of today are healthier and safer for workers.
As part of the day there will be a number of events taking place across the country. Our local Trades Union Council will be hosting an event on Friday 28th April in the South Lanarkshire Council offices in Hamilton from 11:30am.
We encourage all members to attend this important event if they can to pay their respect to those workers who have gone before us and show their support for the continuing work to improve workers health and safety today.
Glasgow May Day 2017
Sunday 30th April, Glasgow, 11am
This year's Glasgow May Day event will be taking place on Sunday 30th April ahead of the May Bank Holiday. The March will gather in George Square from 11am, setting off for 11:30am with a public rally to follow at the Kelvingrove Bandstand.
If any members are interested in attending and carrying our Branch banner then please contact any local rep who will pass your details on.
In addition Unison South Lanarkshire, along with South Lanarkshire and East Kilbride Trades Union Council, will be hosting an evening of cabaret entertainment in the evening. The event will be taking place in Blantyre Miners Welfare from 7:30pm.
Tickets are £7 although local Trade Union Branches can purchase 10 tickets for a discounted £50. If any members are interested in attending this event contact Branch Secretary, Kris Hendry, who will collate names witha view to purchasing tickets on behalf of the Branch.
Pay Up! - Update
GEC issue briefing regarding planned protests on March 31st
The HMRC Group Executive Committee have in the last few minutes released a briefing regarding the planned protest action over pay taking place across the UK tomorrow.
Please find the briefing available below. We encourage all members to ensure they support the protest actions planned in each workplace and help us tell management loud and clear that despite their attempts to block us, we have had enough and that we deserve a decent pay rise.
Support PCS campaign for fair pay for members
PCS members will have read the recent breifings detailing the National Pay Campaign launched by PCS, in particular the planned day of action taking place on Friday 31st March.
Reps will be available on the day for members to play their part and call on a decent pay rise for staff who have seen a real term cut in their take home pay for several years under the failed austerity agenda of the current Government.
Reps will be available between 12pm and 4pm on Friday 31st March at the following locations:
- Plaza Tower - Floor 2 at the former O'Briens Restaurant
- Queensway House - Staff Restaurant
We encourage all members and non members to come along and support this campaign, attendance will be in your own time but it should take no more than a few minutes of your time for what is such an important issue for so many members who are struggling or just about managing due to the stagnant pay in recent years.
The ongoing pay cuts affect all PCS members, regardless of Grade and it is important that we send a clear message that we have had enough and are willing to stand up and say we want a pay rise.
Further Success for PCS
Former Concentrix staff see T&C's harmonised
United Nations International Anti-Racism Day March
Saturday 18th March, Glasgow, 11am
To coincide with the UN International Anti-Racism Day Stand Up to Racism and the TUC are organising events to take place on the 18th March across the UK, with support from PCS.
Glasgow's event, which has been organised by Stand Up to Racism in conjunction with Unite Against Facism Scotland and the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, will consist of a march followed by a rally and we encourage all members to join us.
Over the past year there has been a significant rise in reports of hate crime and vitriolic attacks on migrants and refugees meaning it is even more important to stand together and take part in these events to stand in solidarity and say no to all forms of racism, fascism, islamophobia and anti-semitism.
Assembly will be for 11am on Holland Street with the rally being held in George Square from 12pm. Any members interested in assisting with the Branch banner should contact Branch Secretary, Kris Hendry, to organise this.
Glasgow Trades Union Council March
Saturday 11th March, Glasgow, 11am
As local authorities face up to even deeper cuts to their budgets and public services under threat like never before, Glasgow Trades Union Council will be holding a march and rally on Saturday 11th March.
Local councils and the Scottish Government could be doing a lot more with the powers they have to provide alternative budgets and reverse the austerity politics forced through by the Conservative Government.
With local elections approaching in May, it is vital that ordinary citizens and the trade union movement have their say in what they expect from politicians and political parties, your Branch will certainly be pushing local candidiates to guarantee their support for the Stay in EK campaign and protecting local jobs in HMRC.
We encourage all members to attend this event, the march will assemble on Glasgow Green for 11am with a rally taking place in George Square from 12pm. Anyone interested in assisting with the Branch banner should contact Branch Secretary, Kris Hendry, to organise this.
DWP Office Closure Public Meeting
Saturday 18th February, Glasgow, 11am
At the end of last year the Department of Work and Pensions announced plans to close half of the job centres currently in operation across Glasgow, this was recently followed up with further announcements that include the closure of 78 job centres across Scotland, England and Wales as well as one fifth of their non-frontline offices and further doubt on more offices.
PCS has already given evidence in front of the House of Commons' Scottish Affairs Committee at the beginning of the month and have been joined by various community groups in condemning the proposed closures and their impact on some of the most vulnerable people in society.
PCS will be hosting a public meeting on Saturday 18th February that will be addressed by PCS National President Janice Godrich, Chris Stephens MP who chairs the PCS Parliamentary Group in Westminster as well as Peter Hope, chairperson of Disabled People Against Cuts Glasgow.
The meeting will be taking place in Adelaide's, 209 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HZ from 11am to 1pm. We encourage all members to attend and show their solidarity to colleagues in DWP facing similar uncertainty as ourselves under the current BoF proposals as well as standing up to oppose the plans and the detrimental impact they will have on local communities as well as workers.
Attend Free Screening of I, Daniel Blake
Sunday 12th February, EK Arts Centre, 6:30pm
South Lanarkshire and East Kilbride Trades Union Council, sponsored by Unite Not for Profit branch, Unison Lanarkshire Health Branch and Unison South Lanarkshire Branch, will be hosting a free screening of Ken Loach's critically acclaimed movie I, Daniel Blake.
The movie tells the story of an older man and his experience in trying to access the UK welfare system following a heart attack and the issues and other people he encounters.
PCS were involved in the making of the film, providing information and experiences on behalf of those members who work within the Department of Work and Pensions in facilitating benefits claims.
Our Union has a longstanding policy of opposing benefit sanctions and has worked with organisations such as Disabled People Against the Cuts(DPAC) and Black Triangle to ensure that campaigning action is aimed at those in charge, not our members who can only implement the will of those in charge i.e. the Government.
For those interested in attending this event, you can book tickets through the Arts Centre website by clicking here.
PCS Meet with HMRC CEO
PCS met with HMRC Chief
Executive Jon Thompson on 19 December
2016 and our
senior representatives took the opportunity to press him to take action and halt the implementation of the misnamed Building our Future (BoF) programme. We also offered to work with HMRC to secure a
decent pay rise for all staff. This meeting was the first opportunity since the welcome news that the hated and discredited performance management system will end and to put the views of PCS members
directly to the CEO.
Building an Uncertain Future
PCS launched a comprehensive and detailed report on HMRC compiled on our behalf by the Tax Justice Network at a parliamentary event in Westminster last month. The report entitled HMRC: Building an Uncertain Future draws upon a survey of PCS members’ views which indicated an overwhelmingly rejection of the employer’s plans. The loss of skills and experience was one particular area that was highlighted by members as being a significant risk to the future of the UK tax authority. HMRC has already lost hundreds of skilled workers over the last few years and in the past week has given notice to a further 130 staff, 120 of whom work in Customer Compliance that they will be subject to a redundancy exercise in January. PCS is calling on HMRC to listen to our members and engage with us to review its plans for the future which have been drawn up with no regard to the changed circumstances brought about by the referendum vote to leave the European Union. PCS has also challenged the ability of HMRC to deliver compliance work across the whole country from just 13 Regional centres.
Action is also required to deliver movement on Pay. HMRC workers have suffered years of pay restraint due to government imposed policies. Pay rates for most HMRC staff have stagnated with most receiving pay awards that do not even keep pace with inflation. Ironically, the government policy which will see minimum wages rise to 60% of median earnings by 2020 will mean that pay rates for AA & AO members will need to increase. In order to achieve this and to ensure that all HMRC staff are given a decent pay rise significantly more than 1% will be required. We are calling for a bold move from the employer to work with PCS to secure funds from the Treasury to make significant progress on pay.
PCS nationally have long campaigned against the discriminatory and divisive performance management policies across Government Departments. This has resulted in the Cabinet Office giving way to pressure to abandon the current systems. Four Departments, DWP, MOD, MOJ and HMRC, have been told by Cabinet Office that they can replace current systems with one based on common values in 2017. Within HMRC PCS have sought the abolition of the performance management system and welcome the fact that HMRC now share our view.
The Attendance Management system have proved widely unpopular amongst PCS members and generated discussion and debate at both union and management team meetings. The system is rightly viewed as mechanistic and inflexible. The way in which the system is being implemented mitigates against line managers using their initiative and judgement when dealing with staff who for a variety of reasons may be suffering from ill health.
The tone of the CEO’s response was positive but there is clear blue water in respect of all 4 major issues.
On a positive note the CEO proposed that we enter discussions on BOF in the New Year and whilst the direction of travel remains unchanged there are indications that the detailed BOF blueprint could be altered or amended. He also agreed to share HMRC’s plans on how it plans to maintain national compliance coverage and discuss these with PCS.
Similarly on the issue of Pay, the CEO indicated a willingness to explore options but we recognise that the Government imposed pay cap places severe restrictions on achieving a fair pay settlement.
On PMR, despite the Cabinet Office decision to end the current system, HMRC will press ahead with the current box markings and forced distribution in 2016/17, with a replacement system not coming on stream until 2017/18. We have pressed on the issue of personal references for staff who leave HMRC with a box marking that could be viewed as detrimental and we will be holding further talks with HMRC about this issue.
The CEO was keen to stress his view that the Attendance Management procedures should not inhibit the ability of line managers to exercise discretion. This too will be the subject of further discussions as PCS are aware of numerous examples where this is not happening.
PCS is looking to build a good constructive relationship with the new HMRC leadership. We have agreed to hold quarterly meetings with the CEO and some of the early signs from the employer look positive but these must be backed by action. The decision on performance management is a positive example but risks being undermined by the requirement to carry on with discredited processes at the end of 2016/17. PCS will continue to press HMRC to work with us to build an organisation that works in the interests of all and one in which all staff can be proud to work for.
HMRC in the Dock Again
The last few days has seen the publication of two reports into the work of HMRC, by two of the most
influential House of Commons Select Committees: The Work and Pensions Committee and the PublicAccounts Committee. Both reports are heavily critical of the department’s decision-making and planning, and their content supports many of the arguments PCS have put forward.
This briefing provides members with a summary of the reports’ findings.
Work and Pensions Committee Report: Concentrix
Although the error and fraud work that had been contracted-out to Concentrix has now been taken back in-house, Parliament continues to examine the circumstances around the failed privatisation; and on 28 November 2016, the Work and Pensions Select Committee published its latest report on the subject.
The report does not mince words in its criticism of the department’s managing of the contract; the
processes operated under the contract; and the unjust outcomes of the contract.
The report states: “The flaws in decision making are evidenced by the fact that more than 90 per cent of initial appeals, known as Mandatory Reconsiderations, against Concentrix decisions in HRR16 have been upheld. These are extraordinary figures for any appeals process…”
But the Committee doesn’t just point the finger at the contractor for unjust decision-making; the report makes it clear that: “HMRC were not only complicit in the decision making process used by
Concentrix: they pressured their failing contractor to subject yet more claimants to it.”; and
“It is clear that the failure of the Concentrix contract was more complex than simply not enough staff. It is equally clear that many of the problems that contributed to its rapidly snowballing collapse were foreseeable. In the initial stages it appears HMRC made the situation worse.”
So the Committee makes it clear that it is the actions of senior management in HMRC that have played the major part in this fiasco. Everyone it seems, now recognises that the department’s decision to outsource elements of Tax Credits error and fraud work was a disastrous one, compounded by a contract that rewarded the private company for cutting Tax Credits, irrespective of the merits of the case. It is sad that countless vulnerable people had to be placed in extreme financial difficulty before the department was made to see sense.
As the committee report confirms, if it wasn’t for outside pressure, HMRC would have been more than happy for this whole disgraceful affair to continue. As the report states: “Despite
protestations to the contrary, HMRC were negotiating a new contract with Concentrix until just four days before they announced their decision not to renew. At this stage they were well aware of
PCS hope that, at the highest level, questions will continue to be asked about the judgement of the
cheerleaders for this privatisation debacle; and there is recognition that, in the words of the Commons Committee: “This was a sorry episode for the welfare state. It is imperative that it is not allowed to happen again.”
Public Accounts Committee Report: Performance of HMRC in 2015-16
As well as Parliament being critical of the Concentrix situation, a second report published by the Public Accounts Committee, considered the performance of the department generally, and was also
highly critical. The report stated that: “In the last Parliament, HMRC had made over-optimistic assumptions about how much change it could make all at once, which led to significant deterioration in
the quality of its customer services for some 18 months.”; and “HMRC is staking a great deal on the success of its plans to digitise the tax system, but once again it lacks
an adequate plan if demand for its call centres does not reduce as quickly as it hopes.”
Given this, members could be forgiven for experiencing more than a little Déjà vu, as yet again HMRC has embarked on a major change programme, based on wildly optimistic assumptions about the take-up of digital services. But fear not, the department have indicated that they can always fall back on ‘crisis management’, or as they told the committee: “HMRC noted that if demand did not reduce in the way it expected it would have to ensure that adequate levels of staff were in place to meet taxpayers’ needs.”
Additionally, although HMRC have been reluctant to discuss with PCS, the likely impact of Brexit on the department; fortunately they were slightly happier discussing it with the Public Accounts Committee, whose report relayed the news that: “HMRC told [the select committee] that it expected Brexit to have an impact on: customs and excise duties; social security; administration of the VAT regime, state aid; information exchange with other EU countries; ongoing litigation; and on businesses and their relationship with the Department.”
So clearly the department accepts that there will be major changes resulting from Brexit; but management prefers to continue to pursue the same wildly optimistic assumptions that have failed so spectacularly in the past; on the assumption that they can always embark on a bit of ‘crisis management’ if it all goes horribly wrong. PCS will continue to press HMRC to engage with us to find a more sensible alternative.
Civil Service Compensation Scheme Ballot
Vote YES to reject cuts to your Terms and Conditions
Members will shortly begin to receive ballot papers seeking your view on the proposed cuts to redundancy terms for staff proposed by the Government. These proposals will make it easier and cheaper for Department's to cut staff with members facing huge cuts to the amount they could receive in the event of redundancy.
PCS are urging all members to vote yes and reject these cuts while your Union consider all legal and industrial routes to force the Government to reconsider and reverse these unnecessary cuts.
Reps will be outside each building distributing material to help inform you on the importance of using your vote in this ballot. If you have any questions then please feel free to speak to any of your local reps who will be happy to assist.
The ballot will close on the 28th November. Please Make Your Vote Count!
St Andrew's Day Anti-Racism March & Rally
Saturday 26th November 2016
This year's STUC organised anti-racism march will be taking place on Saturday 26th November. The march will assemble at Glasgow Green from 10:30am for an 11pm set off. The March will then make its way through Glasgow City Centre finishing at the Glasgow Film Theatre. A range of guest speakers will then address attendees from 12pm.
This years theme will be No Racism: Defending Communities and given recent events the STUC is keen to ensure as large a turnout as possible for this year's event. PCS has pledged to take a lead in a new campaign against racism, linked with a campiagn against the Tory austerity agenda. This follows th rise in hate crimes reported across the UK following the EU Referendum earlier this year.
We encourage all members to attend this important event and to help send a clear message that PCS and our members remain opposed to all racism and discrimination.
FOr more information regarding this event, speak to any local rep who will be happy to assist.
GEC Respond to new Attendance Management Policy
Decision to disagree "overwhelming"
PCS has notified the department that they are unable to agree to newly introduced Attendance Management policy. However the GC have signalled to HMRC that they will continue discussions over the issue and an Attendance Management Working Group has been established to coordinate over the issue.
Discussions over the new policy began in February at the intitiation of HMRC following publication of the Civil Service Employee Policy(CSEP) attendance management policy. However due to confidentiality these discussions could not be shared until late July when the documentation over the proposals was made available to the GEC.
THE GEC recognise the Department's decision to make a number of amendments to the CSEP policy, notably discarding all pregnanct related sickness absence from the purposes of attendance management which is beyond what employers are required to do under the law.
PCS have continued discussions with HMRC, raising a number of queries over technical aspects and other concerns which HMRC have provided responses to. PCS did flag up guidance to negotiators which made clear its concerns regarding the CSEP policy, part of which states
"Initial evidence gathered via civil service wide outturn data on Wellbeing and Attendance Management policies indicates that the use of trigger/consideration points are actually having a detrimental effect on health and that staff are coming to work when sick to avoid hitting trigger points, exacerbating ill health problems."
While discussions have been largely productive, the negotiators were concerned that certain lines of business would depart from the central guidance. Last month PCS became aware of senior management in one line of business implementing "Attendance Management special measures" in one site. PCS have made clear to HMRC that such measures are totally unacceptable and were not a feature of either the previous or proposed policy.
PCS negotiators also stressed the importance of the need for a consistent approach and not being operated as a mechanistic tool that left managers feeling that they must always issue a warning when a trigger point is reached. The GEC are therefore concerned that managers in certain areas have been given hard targets to reduce Average Working Days Lost as part of their PMR.
As part of the ongoing discussions over the new policy, the PCS Attendance Management working group welcome any feedback from members which can be submitted to R&CGroup@pcs.org.uk quoting Attendance Management Feedback in the subject heading.
The GEC have given a clear steer to negotiators regarding the ongoing discussions with HMRC which is informed by Group Conference policy. The continued support of you, the members, will be crucial to obtaining positive progress on this issue.
PCS Pan Equality Events Announced
Regional events to be held to relaunch equality networks
PCS will be holding regional cross equality events across the country to relaunch our equality networks. As a Union PCS places equality at the heart of everything we do and recognises that single identity politics cannot always address multiple disadvantage.
That is why PCS will be hosting these events, to bring members of each of PCS' equality groups together to celebrate achivement and consider opportunities to work together to tackle inequality.
Participation from PCS members in under represented groups is crucial for ensuring that PCS is acting in the interests of all of our members and the regional equality networks can provide an excellent platform for new activists to take the first step to becoming more active within PCS.
The PCS Scotland event will be taking place on Wednesday 26th October in the STUC offices, located just outside of Glasgow City Centre. The event will begin at 1pm with lunch provided from 12pm for attendees and finishing for 4pm.
Invitations have been issued to all members who have identified as being black, disabled, LGBT and/or women. If you have yet to receive an invite then please contact a local rep or email the PCS Scotland office at email@example.com.
To find out more about PCS' equality work, check out the equality pages at the top of this page or speak to any local rep who can put you in contact with the relevant officer of the network you are interested in. All discussions will be treated in confidence.
HMRC Staff Survey 2016
GEC issue statement for 2016 survey
In previous years PCS has encouraged members to boycott the staff survey. However in 2015 the decision was made to lift this and following discussions between management and PCS, including assurances being given, your Union is encouraging you to complete the staff survey.
This follows the Building Our Future (office closure) announcements as well as the change in leadership in HMRC. The 2016 staff survey will be the first test of staff views across HMRC on the direction of the department and the performance of management. This is your chance to tell HMRC how you think about their performance, what they are doing right and also what they can do better.
The GEC are aware of instances where local management have taken actions that could be considered as an attempt to influence how staff answer certain questions. This undermines the purpose of the survey which is to ask staff for their direct thoughts.
We encourage all members to answer all questions as they appear on the page and if members feel they are being unfairly pressurised to give particular answers to notify your local reps as soon as possible.
Of course the survey is completely voluntary and how staff choose to complete it is entirely their own decision, however the data produced, if accurate, can help the GEC tke your concerns into future talks with management and progress campaigns on your behalf.
If you have any questions regarding the survey, or this message, contact a local rep who will be happy to discuss with you.
Civil Service Compensation Scheme Survey
Your Union wants to hear your views on cuts to redundancy pay
All members should recently have received either an email or letter in the post inviting them to take part in a consultation exercise over the proposed savage cuts to redundancy terms in the Civil Service.
While this is not an industrial action ballot, it is an importnt consultation that will help to shape the way PCS responds to the proposals on your behalf. We therefore encourage all members to ensure that they use this opportunity to make clear to PCS, as your workplace representatives, what actions you want to be taken in the fight against these shocking proposals.
All survey responses must be received by 5pm on Thursday 6th October 2016.
If you have any questions regarding the survey or the proposals regarding the CSCS, then please contact any workplace rep who will be able to advise you.
UPDATE - For members who have not received their email or postal invite to participate in the CSCS survey, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, membership number or NI number, personal email address, first line of your address, post code and telephone number requesting a further invite.
It is important that all members take part in the survey in order to defend our terms and conditions against these vindictive and unnecessary cuts.
CSCS Floor Meetings
Members are invited to attend floor meetings on Wednesday 28th September to discuss the proposed detrimental changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme, redundancy terms.
Meetings for members will take place as follows:
- Queensway House - All members meeting at 2pm in staff canteen area
- Plaza Tower - Floor 5 Conference Room, staff should attend as follows
- Floor 5 - 12pm
- Floor 4 - 12:45pm
- Floor 11 - 1:30pm
- Floor 6/Offline - Any of the above
Members on floor 3 are invited to attend at either 12pm or 1pm as part of the floor's drop in surgery.
Please note that attendance will be in members own time but it is important that members attend these meetings where possible due to the ongoing nature of this issue. If you have any questions, please contact any local rep who will be happy to assist.
Civil Service Compensation Scheme
Fight the cuts to jobs and redundancy terms
Members will share our dismay at the recent announcements from the Government in regards to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme. Despite reforms under the previous coalition Government, described as 'once in a generation', the Conservatives have announced plans to press ahead with new cuts of at least 25% to civil servants redundancy terms, with more than this for many members of staff.
The Cabinet Office have written to all of the Civil Service Trade Unions offering the opportunity of talks. However these talks were on condition that Unions accept the cuts to CSCS terms before even beginning any negotiations.
This was rejected by PCS, as well as Unite and the POA, with the Cabinet Office now refusing to negotiate with the representatives for the majority of civil servants. Only FDA and Prospect accepted the terms of the Cabinet Office.
With Building Our Future relocations coming, the threat of job cuts in HMRC is real and these changes threaten many members who could face redundancy as HMRC seeks to reduce staffing numbers ahead of any proposed moves to Regional Centres.
PCS, as your Trade Union representatives, want to stop the cuts to redundancy terms and we have agreed to:
Explore any legal options for a challenge
Call on all civil service unions to act together
Lobby politicians to oppose any required legislative changes
Consult members on the proposals and their willingness to take strike action.
As part of this, we urge all members to sign the Parliamentary Petition to call for an end to the cuts to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme. If you're currently not a member then please also consider signing up to ensure your voice is heard.
HMRC savaged by Parliament
Public Accounts Committee heavily critical of HMRC Management
Members may have noticed the recent Intranet article in response to the Public Accounts Committee report on HMRC. Their response focussed on the PAC's criticisms in terms of customer service, offering the familiar response that this is based on old data and that customer service has improved since that time.
Their response however fails to mention or refute a number of other criticisms that the Committee levelled against HMRC management, most of which will hardly be a surprise to members.
The report summarised that;
“HMRC’s service has not been good enough and has failed to meet the standard to which
taxpayers are entitled”
“HMRC released too many staff too soon because it was over-optimistic about how quickly the
demand on its call centres would fall”
“HMRC has not considered the costs to customers of providing a sub-standard service”; and
“HMRC does not know what impact the quality of service it provides has on tax revenue.”
At the Committee meeting in June, which was attended by HMRC's Chief Executive, Executive Chair and Director General of Personal Tax, the Committee pointed out to the Director General that “2,500 were made redundant [in Personal Tax] and then you had to recruit 2,400 [into Personal Tax] to deal with a problem.” With HMRC planning to cut costs by 34% in Personal Tax over the next 5 years, they risk another collapse in the service that hard working staff provide to the public.
The Committee's noting of this is also important in the context of the proposed office closures under the Building Our Future programme. The Committee report concludes, “HMRC must test whether its forecasts of demand are realistic and be prepared to flex its resources as necessary to ensure service demand is met. HMRC should pilot how taxpayers will respond to new digital services before they are widely implemented.”
PCS has continued to fight against HMRC's office closure plans and for full Parliamentary scrutiny of the proposals to be carried out.
In light of the EU Referendum result it is even more important that these plans do not go ahead with the situation facing the country still unknown.
We urge everyone to sign the Parlimentary Petition to call for a halt to HMRC's office closure programme.
LATEST ‘BUILDING OUR FUTURE’ ANNOUNCEMENTS
DATE: 12 July
On 30 June 2016, HMRC held a series of presentations to staff, updating them on the latest developments in their
office closure and job-cutting plans, euphemistically called ‘Building Our Future’.
HMRC have confirmed their management plan to reduce staffing to 50,000 by 2021. Given the fact that there is currently a ‘full time equivalent’ of more than 59,700 in the department, this means that the better part of 10,000 jobs – nearly one-sixth of the workforce – will be going in the next five years. There is clearly no guarantee that your job won’t be one of the HMRC posts going.
The department states that “the majority of people who are due to move into a regional centre in the next two years will move with their existing work to that regional centre”. This is clearly different from ‘all people who are due to move into a regional centre…’ and shows once again that there is no guarantee that you will have a job in the new structure.
Not all directorates will be present in all regional centres, so even if you are currently based in a location where there is going to be a regional centre, there is no guarantee your current post will exist in that regional centre.
Prior to the announcement on 30 June, staff were given the clearest impression that if they are within reasonable daily travel of a regional centre, they will have a job in the new structure. That certainty has now been downgraded to a management statement that they “expect” there’ll be a job for you; providing you have the right skills or they think you can acquire the right skills. So even if you live within reasonable daily travel of a regional centre, there is no guarantee of a job.
The department plans to bring people with the same specialist skills together into ‘centres of expertise’. They add that “wherever possible” they will create centres of expertise in places where people are already doing this type of work, or where the location has a good supply of new recruits with those specialist skills. This means that if you have specialist skills, there is no guarantee that the ‘centre of expertise’ will be located within reasonable daily travel of where you currently work; and therefore no guarantee that you will have a job in your current specialism (or indeed at all).
The numbers of staff listed for each regional centre in the 30 June presentation differs significantly from those figures provided in November 2015, with some centres listing up to 1,000 fewer staff than listed in the November presentation. There is also no clarity over the grade split envisaged, the only broad staffing numbers available are indicated only by location and line of business.
PCS have asked management for clarification regarding the latest figures. As yet, no clarification has been received.
Competing for your job?
Given that HMRC are making it plain that no-one’s job is safe, the next question is: ‘how are the reduced number of posts going to be filled?’
Perhaps unsurprisingly, management have given PCS no indication about how the posts will be filled. We can only assume that, as in the past, members will be expected to scramble around competing for jobs.
Why so sensitive?
The department indicated that there were a number of sites which they considered would be ‘sensitive’. When PCS asked precisely what made those sites sensitive, management responded they were “not in a position to share with [PCS] the rationale for the sensitive sites – this was an ExCom decision”. So let’s be clear: there are a number of sites where there are particular concerns, but they refuse to tell PCS why there are particular concerns; and that this refusal comes from the highest level in the department. The obvious question is: what have they got to hide?
HMRC ‘in denial’
As members are aware, PCS have written to the HMRC Chief Executive seeking the full business case for the office closure and job-cuts programme. Additionally we have written following the recent referendum decision to leave the European Union, given that this will mean additional work for the department in the fields of VAT, Customs and International Trade.
In his reply, the Chief Executive has made no mention of providing the business case, and has simply reiterated the department’s plan to set up the regional centres and persuade people to conduct their tax affairs on-line. The Chief Executive goes on to repeat the statement that they are happy to talk to PCS but not to discuss the viability of the department’s plans; only how those plans can be implemented. The seismic upheaval that is the country’s exit from the European Union was dismissed in one sentence; with the Chief Executive simply saying ‘the referendum result doesn’t change our plans’.
These aren’t the actions of a department with a strategic plan; they are the actions of a department in denial.
Fighting for offices, fighting for jobs
PCS are continuing to campaign to defend offices and jobs. To give ourselves the greatest chance of success, we need the greatest involvement of members.
We will be organising membership meetings in the coming weeks, to discuss directly with members the latest developments; and how we should collectively respond. You should make every effort to attend your local meeting and participate.
Performance Management in PT Operations
Generic Performance Management Reports (PMR) issued to members without PCS agreement.
Please use this PMR template rather than the template issued by the employer
Performance Management in PT Ops Appendi[...]
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Performance Management in PT Ops Appendi[...]
Microsoft Word document [22.5 KB]
17 June 2016
PT Operations have this week issued generic PMRs across the business which have not been agreed with PCS. Official side (OS) shared a generic PMR with the Union’s PT Operations negotiators in the middle of May, and suggested a ‘face to face’ meeting would be desirable. PCS responded agreeing to a meeting and made a number of suggested amendments to the PMR, concurring that due to the number of amendments, a meeting would be the best way forward. OS then approached PCS for a meeting, giving us around three days’ notice for the suggested meeting date which PCS - due to prior commitments - were unable to attend. We did however, suggest some dates in the following week that we hoped were mutually convenient.
Without any attempt to set a further meeting or telephone conference, PCS were informed that OS intended to roll out the generic PMRs. Whilst the PMRs had been amended to include some of the changes requested by us they still contain many areas where PCS cannot agree, like the imposition of hard targets within the PMR. Some measures which we believe are unachievable and other measures which have been used to justify ‘Must Improve’ markings in the past.
Advice for Members
HR71004 states “the manager and jobholder are jointly responsible for making sure they discuss and agree objectives and that the jobholder understands their objectives”. Members should engage with this process and attempt to agree a PMR that it is achievable. To assist members with this the issued generic PMR has been amended to make it achievable which is available to download via the link at the top of this article . Members are encouraged to use this PMR when setting their own objectives.
Members are encouraged to ensure that their objectives are achievable and fully under their own control. So we strongly advise members to:
· Not sign up for hard targets or KPI’s as these fluctuate at different times of the year depending on lines of business and various work pressures
· Ensure any reasonable adjustments you need which can affect your performance/behaviours are reflected in your PMR
· Not to agree any measure you do not have control over. For example don’t agree to be “widely recognised as a role model” if you don’t have opportunities outside your team to display this
· Remember that your recognised Trade Union is opposed to management’s ‘Building Our Future’ plans; and ‘fully co-operating with the imminent or eventual closure of your office’ is not something that you can or should have included as an objective in your report.
HR71004 also states “Every effort should be made to agree the objectives with the jobholder but, if disagreements cannot be resolved, the manager must make the final decision and set the objectives”. Where members are unable to agree reasonable and achievable objectives with their manager then a suggested letter has been produced which is available to download via the link at the top of this article . Please complete the letter and forward onto your manager to record alongside your PMR.
Members including those that are managers should remember that HR71004 tells us that “The manager is responsible for setting objectives with the jobholder at the start of the performance year” – as such no manager should feel obliged to impose hard targets.
HR71004 affirms that managers may still be expected to impose objectives on jobholders. Managers should feel under no obligation to impose any objectives or hard targets on members which are unreasonable, unfair or unachievable. Should managers come under pressure from their own manager to do this, please let PCS so that we can raise with OS centrally.
People engagement scores across HMRC and PT Operations in particular continue to be the lowest across the whole civil service. PCS believes, simply, that a happy workforce is generally the most productive workforce; and HMRC should be working with us to improve working conditions within the department. The way to an engaged workforce is not by issuing generic PMRs which are unacceptable to the recognised union; and it is certainly not productive to impose unrealistic, unachievable objectives which members have no control over.
HMRC to Impose 2016 Pay Offer
HMRC this week announced their intention to impose the pay offer for 2016 on staff, beginning with payments of June salaries. More details are available in the Branch Briefing below as well copies of HMRC's response to PCS' Pay Claim and PCS' reply to news of HMRC's decision on pay.
With the Treasury imposed 1% cap on pay for civil servants set to continue for the rest of this decade, it is important that members get involved in the fight to challenge this and join the call for better pay across the Civil Service.
Many members have seen a cut in real terms to their take home pay in recent years and the intended moves to Regional Centres will place further pressures on members already stretched finances, with travel costs adding hundreds of pounds to expenditure each year.
If you are not a member of PCS already, we urge you to consider joining as the stronger our Union is, the more effective we can be in challenging the Department on pay as well as this Government's ongoing austerity agenda.
Our Fight - Our Future
Members will be aware of the department’s plans to move to 13 regional centres over the course of the next decade. Members might not know but these plans were originally mooted in 2004 just after the merger of Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise, however these plans were withdrawn after parliamentary scrutiny showed they were completely flawed and would leave the department unable to chase tax cheats across the country. Now the very same plans are back and worryingly include the closure of the HMRC offices in East Kilbride. The effect this will have on the local economy cannot be overstated.
The Government has now announced plans to slash the terms of the Civil Service Compensation Scheme. The proposals will see redundancy payments reduced from 1 month’s pay for every year of service up to a maximum of 21 months pay cut to 3 weeks for every year & a maximum of 12 months. It is no coincidence that the Department is looking to minimise the amount of money they will need to spend making staff redundant at the same time as looking to move offices.
Check how you will be affected using the calculator below.
Further to this, 150 HMRC staff are facing compulsory redundancy on the basis they live outside reasonable daily travel of a regional centre. This is the thin end of the wedge, the department are moving on this now – whilst billions of pounds are lost in uncollected, evaded & legally avoided tax – to ensure they have no opposition when they make thousands of us redundant in future on the same grounds.
It doesn't matter if the East Kilbride offices are due to close in 1 year or 10 years. We need to fight these plans before it is too late. We need your support to force HMRC to put their location strategy before Parliament for review. If these plans are truly about cost-savings then HMRC should have no fears about their strategy being scrutinised.
A consultation was launched on Monday 8th February which gives civil servants the opportunity to object to the plans on the CSCS. It closes at 3pm on 4 May. Please go to the gov.uk website and register your opposition to these cuts by completing a response form.
This is our fight. We need members to recognise that the announcement of a centre housing 3000 staff in Glasgow was given to all staff in East Kilbride, Glasgow & Cumbernauld. The centre is not going to sit half empty for 5 years until we all move there in a decade. We cannot allow the department to make a single member redundant now, cannot allow the centralisation of work to continue & we cannot allow the government to slash the terms of our compensation for loss of office because down the line we’ll be the staff facing redundancy.
Please respond to the consultation around the CSCS. Please speak to colleagues & encourage them to join the campaign. Please keep up to date via the Branch website and our Twitter & Facebook pages. Let us know how you think we can best fight the plans, what action you would like to see & please support us when we move to action on these vital campaigns. This is our future, please join the fight for it.
Membership Survey Launching over Office Closures
PCS are launching a major survey of members working in HMRC to obtain members' views over PCS' response to management plans to close offices and place jobs in jeopardy.
The survey will be carried out online and give members an opportunity to make their voice heard over the plans and what response PCS should be making to defend our members.
The survey will be launched on the 11th April however due to the nature of the issue it will not be possible to receive the invitation to internal department email addresses. So to make sure you have the opportunity to have your say, make sure to provide PCS with an up to date personal email address.
You can do so via iMembership section on the PCS website or by calling PCS Membership (See website for details).
Guidance for Members & Manager Members
Please find below updated guidance notes for members and managers undergoing performance management reviews and annual objective setting interviews.
Whilst PCS seeks an end to the current system of performance management, it is important that members and member managers understand and assert their rights under the current system.
The first guidance note is arranged as a 10-point check list for members.
The second guidance note is aimed at our members who line managerial duties.
Compulsory Redundancies announced in HMRC
Tuesday 16th February
We are deeply saddened to hear of HMRC’s decision to issue compulsory redundancy notices to almost 150 members of staff today and we would like to express our sympathy and solidarity to all of those affected by this announcement. This decision is especially troubling in light of HMRC’s current recruitment programmes in other locations, a clear sign that there is work available if HMRC should choose to take the appropriate steps to deliver this work to those facing redundancy. The decision not to is entirely based in HMRC’s “Building Our Future” proposals, their plan to close almost all of its current 170 offices across the UK. As a Branch, it is important to stress that the decisions of HMRC now have the potential to affect you, our members based within East Kilbride, as we face up to the closure of our offices in the town over the coming years. Of particular concern is the current Tory Government consultation on implementing further cuts to redundancy terms and conditions, despite only recently being changed under the previous Coalition Government for the “long term.” It is only together that we can have any hope of fighting back against our employer’s chosen path of office closures and job cuts across HMRC. If you haven’t already make sure to join PCS by visiting the PCS website here.
Phoenix Fund 2016
We are delighted to announce that due to the support from you, our members, in 2015 we are in a position to increase the total prize pot for the Phoenix Fund in 2016.
Prizes each month will now be £100, £50 and £50 for our winners, with the regular mega draws in May and November now offering a chance to win £200, £100 and £100 for everyone taking part.
Membership continues to be £4 each month, with over 75% of the monies received due to be paid back out in prizes. For more details, including winners for 2016, and an application form then please visit the Phoenix Draw link at the top of the page or speak to any local rep who will be happy to assist. The more members who take part, the better the prizes.
Local Office Closures Announced
In response to today's announcements regarding the closure of both Plaza Tower and Queensway House from HMRC, the local Branch Executive Committee have prepared the following response;
"The Branch Executive Committee in East Kilbride share members concerns over this morning's announcements. Plaza Tower will close in 2019/20 with the majority of staff moving to Queensway House, Queensway House will close on 2025/6 & staff at that point will be relocated out of East Kilbride into the regional centre opening in the centre of Glasgow. Where exactly the new site will be in the centre of town has yet to be confirmed. Colleagues in Glasgow & Cumbernauld will see their buildings close & move to Glasgow in 2019/20. Colleagues in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas will move to a regional centre in Edinburgh. Many colleagues in the rest of Scotland face office closures without a regional centre to move to as early as 2017, something echoed in every region up and down the country.
Branch President, Bob Farmer, has spoken to local media in regards to the office closure announcements and our Group Executive Committee have also issued a response in regards to the full national announcements.
As more information becomes available we will ensure all members are kept fully updated, with plans being put in place to hold floor meetings in order to consult with our members regarding the announcements. It is also important that, if you have not done so already, you provide PCS with an external email address as we may not be able to circulate all this information via HMRC's email systems.
We also send a message of solidarity to all of our colleagues across the country now facing the prospect of being forced to leave HMRC due to todays announcements.
PCS planning major pay campaign & consultation
PCS is planning a major campaign, including coordinated strike action, to challenge the 1% pay cap that chancellor George Osborne has announced will continue for another 4 years.
The continuation of the cap and tax credit changes were among more bad news for civil servants
and public sector workers announced in the 8 July summer
budget. The government has also agreed proposals with all government departments to abolish contractual progression pay across the civil service.
In a major consultation exercise in the autumn we will be seeking the view of branches about our pay claim and how we mobilise members behind our pay demands.
On 15 July our general secretary Mark Serwotka met with the new Cabinet Office Secretary, Matt Hancock. At the meeting he took the opportunity to press the minister on the issue of pay and the double effect of the public sector pay cap and tax credit changes on low-paid civil servants.
Our national executive believes that public sector pay policy requires a co-ordinated response
from public sector trade unions, including industrial action. We are taking every opportunity to raise this issue with other public sector unions. Conference motions A18 and A447 instructed the NEC
to do this.
The NEC has agreed that we will fully support the TUC's 4 October march and rally in Manchester against the government’s austerity agenda and attacks on trade unions timed to coincide with the start of the Tory party conference.
Our delegation to the TUC Congress in September will be proposing a motion highlighting the effect of the budget on public spending and public sector pay and calling on the TUC to launch a major public sector-wide campaign to break the public sector pay cap, including joint, coordinated industrial action.
The motion also calls on the TUC to:
· work with all anti-cuts campaigns to mobilise for the national demonstration at the Conservative party conference
· organise a national demonstration against austerity early in 2016, and
· lead a major public campaign against the Tories’ plans to restrict the democratic right to strike.
The effects of pay policy
Government policy means that over the last 9 years pay will have increased by 7%, including
progression pay. In the budget Osborne also announced an increase in the National Minimum Wage and a cut in tax credits.
Increases in the NMW will not affect the majority of PCS members, but many have families and rely on tax credits to make ends meet. While wages in the private sector look set to rise faster than inflation, in the public sector the government plans to limit increases so the value of pay will continue to fall.
The effect of the pay cap and tax credits cuts could further the take-home pay of members who receive tax credits. This means that low-paid public sector workers will be hit twice: once by the pay cap and then by the tax credit cuts.
Annual data about civil service pay shows the effect of government policy.
In April 2014 average pay for civil servants was £24,730, but if it had risen in line with prices including housing costs (Retail Price Index) it would have been£26,734.
Pay restraint for civil servants did not start in 2010. The previous government had limited civil service pay increases. In September 2007 average civil service pay was £22,160. This means that average pay in the civil service has increased by 11.6% in six and a half years. In that time inflation has increased by 21.9% (CPI) (RPI 23.9%).
Since 2007 the real value of average civil service pay has fallen by £2,500 and there has been a disproportionate effect on the low paid. During that time civil service pension contributions have risen by an average of 3.2%, which has further reduced take-home pay for the average civil servant, by about £500 a year.
Public sector areas not covered by the Treasury pay remit and the civil service statistics have also been affected by government pay policy and increases to pension contributions. The effect on pay is comparable to that of civil service.
Emergency budget: PCS analysis
Chancellor George Osborne's emergency budget of increased inequality means civil servants, children and welfare claimants are set to suffer even more.
Osborne, who was jeered throughout his hour-long speech in the House of Commons at lunchtime, set out to reward the wealthy and punish the poor.
He plans to cut £12 billion from the social security budget and again cap civil servants' pay by limiting annual increases to 1% over the next 4 years.
This is despite the fact that the Retail Prices Index is expected to steadily rise from the third quarter of this year to reach a peak of 3.2% between the second and fourth quarter of 2018.
This is yet more pain for PCS members as the last government cut living standards for civil servants by up to 20%.
Osborne also said he would leave further announcements on cuts of up to £20bn cuts of government departmental spending until the autumn statement, with 100,000 more civil service jobs likely to go over the next 5 years.
More welfare cuts
Osborne made it clear that those on benefits must bear the brunt of cost of clearing the deficit and outline welfare plans that include:
•lowering the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000 for London households and £20,000 for the rest of the UK
•limiting child tax credits - worth £2,780 per child - to just two children if the extra children are born after April 2017
•scrapping housing benefit for 18-21-year-olds and make them ‘earn or learn’
•making social/council tenants who earn more than £30,000 to pay full market rent (£40,000 in London)
•reducing income threshold for tax credits (or similar Universal Credit) from £6,420 to £3,850.
On top of this the Tories are scrapping grants for the poorest university students - worth up to £3,387 - from April, which would have been worth £3bn a year by 2020. These will be replaced by loans.
The chancellor did announce the introduction of a new national minimum wage for the 0ver 25s starting at £7.20 and raising to £9 by 2020. But the Living Wage Foundation has calculated the amount needed to live on and its miles above where the chancellor has set his.
Tax campaigner Richard Murphy said of the plan to replace the dividend tax credit with a tax free allowance worth £5,000 as giving "more opportunities for abuse".
Meanwhile it was good news for the rich as he abolished inheritance tax on estates under £1m and raised the 40p income tax threshold from £42,385 to £43,000 with an aim to raise it to £50,000 eventually.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Cutting social security support from the unemployed, the low paid, and sick and disabled people must rank among the lowest and most despicable acts of any government in recent times.
"Tory cuts have hit public services we all rely on, and led to the deeply unpopular privatisation plan at the National Gallery. More politically-motivated cuts on this scale would devastate services and leave them vulnerable to companies looking to run them for private profit rather than public good."
Stress in the workplace
Scott Clark, Office Chair in the Contact Centre, writes:-
Workplace Stress can be debilitating, demotivating and is harmful to your health. Our time at work can be enjoyable and rewarding, however changes to our work remits and increasing workloads can sometimes leave us feeling drained, fatigued and eventually this can lead to sickness absence. Eventually with prolonged periods of sickness absence we can find our jobs at risk.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is the governing body for Health & Safety in the UK. On the HSE website the following symptoms are described as possible indicators of workplace stress:
· Negative or depressive feeling
· Disappointment with yourself
· Increased emotional reactions - more tearful or sensitive or aggressive
· Loneliness, withdrawn
· Loss of motivation commitment and confidence
· Mood swings (not behavioural)
· Can’t concentrate
· Changes in eating habits
· Increased smoking, drinking or drug taking 'to cope'
· Mood swings effecting your behaviour
· Changes in sleep patterns
· Twitchy, nervous behaviour
These symptoms can be indicators of Anxiety & Depression. In some cases, these can be caused by factors outside of work. However, if you are suffering from these symptoms it could be an indicator that your health is being affected by workplace stress. Fortunately your employer has a Duty Of Care for your Health & Wellbeing. HMRC Guidance can be found on the Intranet, under the About You section, specifically under Your Wellbeing Health and Safety. It may be worthwhile reading through this guidance in your Investment Time.
If you feel your health is at risk due to workplace stress, you should speak to your manager and together agree next steps, which should include completing a Stress Reduction Plan. You can copy in your local PCS H&S Rep. This will allow your manager to work on ways to reduce your stress and improve your health.
If you have an accident at work, eg a panic attack, you should complete a form called an ACC1. This can be found by searching the Intranet for an HRACC1 form. You should then send this form to your Team Leader and a PCS H&S Rep. This form allows your Team Leader to properly report any incident of workplace stress affecting your health.
If you need any further assistance you should speak to your Team Leader immediately. Your local PCS Health & Safety Reps are always available to assist you.
Kris Charnley, Branch Learning Coordinator here in East Kilbride writes
Usually the first question I get asked is 'What is a Union Learning Rep?' PCS seek to enhance the skills of individuals and encourage people back into learning to improve their personal and work-related skills, the driving force behind this are the Learning Reps.
Learning Reps help colleagues identify their skill levels and provide access to training and development opportunities offered by local learning providers to help them build on them.
Every learning rep is given full training to carry out their role in each branch and their day to day role rep can sometimes involve:
- Offering information and advice on learning opportunities provided by learning providers such as colleges and universities
- Advising colleagues who would be interested in attending further education where to find learning resources and potential sources of funding e.g. Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs), or the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS)
- Distributing questionnaires to find out colleagues' learning interests and using these as a source of statistics and learning trends to allow us to research details of the most appropriate courses available
- Organise learning or spotlight events involving outside learning providers where colleagues can come and seek advice on further education.
The Learning Rep is one of the most valuable roles in the union as we work with the business to encourage full pro-active support for learning from both union members and non-members.
If you are interested in finding out more about learning in your area, or are interested in joining the learning team please contact me or your local learning rep.
DMB: Sandra Muir, Flavio Faccenda, Lesley Anne Carruthers
Contact Centre: Kris Charnley, Scott Clark, Caroline Ferguson, Niall McInnes, Alex Wilson
Queensway House: Craig Lundie, Ruth Maltman, Scott McIntyre, Fiona Petrie, Ashleigh Watt
Branch Annual General Meeting Reports
Many thanks to the members who used their own time to attend our AGM. Full detailed minutes of the meeting are attached below as are a number of important updates highlighted at the AGM.
The meeting heard several speeches highlighting current negotiations & issues facing members and the union itself. We also passed several motions to be heard at PCS Group and National Conferences in May. Motions passed included ones on Industrial relations in PT Ops, using call handling stats to mask staff shortages, campaigning on uncollected, evaded and legally avoided tax and the impact on staffing this has, part year working, members unable to undertake telephony work, protecting domestic violence support groups, on the Syriza Government in Greece, on ballot arrangements and on NEC & GEC voting. Full details are available on the website in the report.
Please sign up to pay your subs by direct debit at https://www.join.pcs.org.uk/en/join-pcs/switch-to-direct-debit/switch-to-direct-debit.cfm
A detailed report of the general meeting held on the 4th of March 2015
AGM Minutes 2015.doc
Microsoft Word document [96.5 KB]
Hardship Fund and other assistance available
Group Hardship Fund
We recognise asking members to take industrial action in the current climate of pay constraints and ever increasing bills is a very big ask. The PCS HMRC Group operate a hardship fund is to assist those of our members who have taken industrial action and who are suffering genuine hardship as a result of taking such action.
It is not strike pay and the usual amount that can be paid to successful applicants is 50% of an AO’s average daily pay rate per day, roughly £20, however the finance committee will look at each application on its own right and may pay more if cases merit it.
If you wish to apply speak to your local rep in confidence or fill in the form below and pass to a Branch Officer.
I'd like to also highlight here that the union offers a Debt helpline & online support for those members struggling; it offers impartial advice, regardless of the amount you owe. It is operated through Payplan and the number is 0800 716 239
Find out more on the Payplan website. https://www.payplan.com/
Finally, Each year, the national executive committee sets aside money to be spent to help members facing financial hardship through sickness, family troubles and many other problems.
Applications on the official form are reviewed weekly and monitored by the NEC.
Grants can be given on a one-off basis. We do not give loans and the amount is limited to a maximum of £500.
All information received remains confidential.
For further information please contact the benevolent fund secretary on 020 7801 2601, option 3.
Application forms are available from reps or on the PCS website
University of Strathclyde - Centre for Lifelong Learning
To find out about lifelong learning opportunities being run by the University of Strathclyde please check out the learning page.