3 Jun 2013 09:30am

HMRC staff strike over centre closures

Thousands of HMRC and Department for Work and Pensions staff are to stage a series of walkouts this week over cuts and the closure of tax advice centres

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) has said that around 135,000 of its members will strike at different times across the country between Monday and Friday. The union said the two departments are at the heart of the political debate about public spending.

Central to the PCS's three-month campaign are plans by HMRC to close of all of its 281 enquiry centres by 2014 putting 1,300 jobs at risk. Pilot closures of 13 centres begin in the north east start today.

The PCS said the closures will cost more than it will save and disproportionately disadvantage pensioners, people on low incomes, migrant workers and disabled people. HMRC claim the move will save £13m a year and that it aims to redeploy the staff elsewhere.

A demonstration outside HMRC’s London headquarters is planned for Friday. PCS activists will be wearing blank face-masks holding a banner saying, “Don't make HMRC a faceless service. Keep tax advice local”.

PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said, "These workers are the backbone of our country's public services and do not deserve to be treated with contempt by ministers who are refusing to even talk to us about the cuts they are imposing.

"Collecting even a fraction of the money we lose through tax dodging by wealthy individuals and organisations would make it impossible for the government to claim it has no choice but to cut billions from the welfare budget for sick, disabled and unemployed people."

Raymond Doherty


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