HMRC to lose 20,000 staff in 'lightning' walkout

More than 20,000 HMRC staff providing advice on tax returns will stage ‘lightning’ walkouts this afternoon in protest against plans to privatise their workload.

To be held at Revenue call centres and enquiry offices, the series of 30-minute walkouts is scheduled for 4.30pm today, but will culminate on January 31st, self-assessment tax day.

Admitting that the action is planned to coincide with a “key date in HMRC’s diary,” its organisers say it is in opposition to the taxman’s move towards privatisation.

Specifically two companies, Sitel and Teleperformance, are to be appointed by HMRC to run call handling trials in tax credit centres in Cumbria and Scotland, said PCS.

The union blasted: “If HMRC believes there are issues to address in its call centres, it should invest in its own staff and in training, instead of handing public money to private companies.”

PCS General Secretary Mark Sewotka is concerned that the year-long trials, due to start in early February, “risk paving the way for privatisation” across the tax authority.

An HMRC spokesman reportedly insisted that its “existing” contact centres were not being privatised – but said a “variety of options” were needed to improve customer service.

Jan 16, 2012