Tax workers strike over job concerns

Published Thursday, 26 June 2014
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HM Revenue and Customs workers have taken to picket lines in Northern Ireland over concerns over job cuts.

Tax workers strike over job concerns
Workers at the Belfast tax office took part in the demonstration. (© UTV)

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said around 1,500 staff in the region were expected to join with thousands of others across the UK on Thursday as part of a planned week-long show of demonstrations in protest against staff cuts and office closures.

The union has called for the government to put an end to staff losing their jobs and for senior officials to work with them to help better resource the department.

There is currently an ongoing consultation about the closure of the Newry office and both Foyle House in Londonderry and Abbey House in Enniskillen have been partially closed.

And a number of enquiry centres are also scheduled to close at the end of the month.

The union said years of successive job cuts had left the organisation unable to cope creating delays in answering phones and backlogs of paperwork.

PCS assistant secretary Barney Lawn added: "Members are extremely angry that staffing numbers in HMRC have fallen [nationally] from 104,000 in 2005 to a projected 60,000 next year.

"The latest plans to sack another 22,000 on top of this will lead to the kind of backlogs we've seen in other parts of the civil service such as the delays in the processing of passports, leading to an unacceptable level of customer service and further hardship for our undervalued, overworked and underpaid members."

The union is also considering other shorter duration walkouts to highlight the gaps in services.

An HMRC spokeswoman responded: "HMRC is transforming to ensure that we continue to deliver the best possible service to our customers.

"In common with all customer service organisations we have to match staffing to the growth in online and digital services. We remain committed to avoiding redundancies wherever possible."

She added: "We are also determined to improve our service delivery. Assessing the performance of staff through a fair and reasonable performance appraisal system is a key part of this."

© UTV News
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