Opinion Former Article

PCS: Tax enquiry ‘privatisation’ poses serious threat to jobs and security

More than 21,000 Revenue and Customs workers could take action over HMRC plans to use private sector providers to answer phone calls from taxpayers.

Contracts are expected to be awarded in mid-November to two private sector suppliers to provide about 100 staff each. Private sector staff are expected to be located in two HMRC call centre sites answering tax credit calls for one year from January 2012. PCS believes the move could pose a serious threat to customer security.

PCS is launching a ballot tomorrow (28 October) of 12,000 members who work in customer operations and nearly 9,000 working in the Customer Contact Directorate. These are the members immediately impacted by the potential privatisation implications and those who are most vulnerable to job losses and could therefore be retained to cover the work.

Members are being asked to support regular walkouts. They will also be asked to vote in favour of working to rule.

As HMRC intends to cut a further 10,000 posts in the department before the end of the spending review period, of which 8,000 are likely to come from customer operations, any extra work should be retained in-house and existing staff trained to help alleviate workloads.

PCS is calling on the employer to abandon plans to contract work out to the private sector and cease the tendering exercise; cover peak-time call handling by training existing permanent HMRC staff in other areas of the department and give appropriate commitments to the maintenance of future service delivery in-house.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "While we have sought to persuade the employer to abandon these plans it is clear that the tendering process is continuing and contracts will be awarded to private sector providers in mid-November. As the private staff will have access to customer data it poses a serious threat to the security of customers' data, including financial information, and increases the potential for tax credit fraud. We are calling on HMRC to commit to delivering all services in-house with HMRC trained permanent staff."

ENDS

Notes

- For information contact PCS journalist Dave Tilley on 020 7801 2744

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, as well as staff in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK’s fifth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich

- Follow PCS on Twitter http://twitter.com/pcs_union
 

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