Fifty thousand tax workers are being balloted on a wide-ranging programme of industrial action in a dispute over job cuts, the Public and Commercial Services union announces.
The ballot, of all the union's members in HM Revenue and Customs opens today (28), and forms part of the union's ongoing national campaign among its 250,000 civil service members against cuts to jobs and public services.
The union has sought high-level talks in HMRC on a range of key issues linked to jobs in a department that has cut more than 30,000 posts in the last decade and plans to cut thousands more by next year.
The union has asked HMRC to reach a joint agreement on adequate staffing levels and to join it in making a case to the government for long-term investment to properly tackle tax avoidance and evasion.
The union says the department must improve its profile in our communities and ensure its central role in funding the public services we all rely on is recognised, but says continuing cuts are seriously undermining this.
Despite significant opposition, HMRC is pressing ahead with the closure of all its 281 walk-in enquiry centres. This will cut face to face tax advice for millions of people, particularly older people and migrant workers, and put 1,300 jobs at risk.
As well as more looming job cuts and office closures, other issues in the dispute include the threat of privatisation in HMRC's debt management division and in mail handling; and the imposition of a discredited and widely unpopular performance management system that places an arbitrary 10% of staff each year at risk of disciplinary procedures and the sack.
The ballot closes on Friday 16 May. In the event of a yes vote, the union will launch a series of one-day and shorter duration strikes, walk-outs, "good work strikes" to highlight the gaps in services caused by understaffing, and other forms of industrial action.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "A decade of cuts has left HMRC unable to cope with its crucial job of collecting the taxes that fund the other public services we all rely on.
"These cuts must be stopped and the government must invest in our society and a serious clampdown on the tax dodgers who deprive our public finances of tens of billions of pounds a year."
- Contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747, 07833 978216 or firstname.lastname@example.org..uk
- PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and represents civil and public servants in central government and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. Mark Serwotka is the general secretary and the president is Janice Godrich – on Twitter @janicegodrich
- Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union