Aspire IT workers urged to organise

All workers who deliver IT for HM Revenue & Customs are being urged by a union to step forward, in light of the ailing Aspire technology contract being terminated early.

Appealing to its 1,600 members who work the £10m contract, and non-members including those in the private sector, PCS said all techies affected by the termination should “join us.”

Those techies include HMRC staff, workers at Revenue & Customs Digital Technology Services, and workers at HMRC’s IT suppliers, Capgemini and Fujitsu.

They may also include workers at other IT consultancies, as the Aspire workload is to be broken up into a series of smaller, more flexible contracts with some new IT suppliers.

The PCS is against such change and although it cited the criticisms that Aspire has received, it believes the early exit puts at risk the £500bn in taxes that the IT system helps to collect each year.

The union said: “We cannot defend the considerable profits the contract has generated for private companies, [but] Aspire has helped our members to deliver results, which cannot be said of all government IT projects.

“The provision of all public services depends on the tax revenues that Aspire assists HMRC in collecting. The government is taking a huge gamble… [as it] looks to rely on unproven IT within an unproven model for future tax collection.”

However some existing IT contracts under Aspire will be extended beyond 2017 without a re-bid, despite HMRC’s announcement last week to tie-up the contract before its June end date.

A spokesperson for PCS said its “priority” would be to “protect the interests of our members” who were still working on Aspire.  But it wants other IT workers to act too.

“PCS is unique in that we represent both public and private sector members jointly working to deliver this important public service,” it said. “We urge all workers delivering HMRC IT to join us, to get unionised and to organise."

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