by Steve Ryan
Workers in 130 offices throughout the UK reacted with anger and dismay yesterday as the closure of their offices was confirmed.
The decision will affect nearly 3000 workers, some half of them being offered voluntary redundancy. Compulsory redundancy looms for those who will not, or cannot, go voluntarily. Others will be transferred to other more “strategic” offices, facing long journeys to work and vastly increased travel costs.
The decision, especially during a recession, is crazy. HM Revenue and Customs is in meltdown with huge arrears of work and billions uncollected in tax debt – money that could be used to create jobs.
The closures are mostly in rural towns. They will have a knock on effect on communities: trade etc in local shops will drop and of course fewer jobs will be available, crazy again with millions unemployed.
The reaction of the PCS union has been muted, promising to take industrial action only if anyone is made compulsory redundant. This is probably due to the NEC meeting this week to decide on the way forward over the threat to the compensation scheme, as previously reported in The Commune. Rumours are that members will be balloted on strike action.
This is all very well but the real fight is to STOP people losing their jobs, any fight over the scheme should be linked with action in HMRC group and elsewhere in PCS to defend jobs and communities.
Having gained zero in the fight over pay this is now the acid test for PCS and the dominant Left Unity group. Elections approach and members are getting very restless at the lack of fight or strategy.
A principled fight back with hard and innovative action could attract support from outside PCS as workers in other unions look to defend their jobs, pensions etc. It would put real pressure on government as a general election looms. Real gains can be had, giving confidence to workers everywhere.