Tuesday Jun 26, 201202:37 PM GMT
Customs staff stage walk out in protest at UK cuts
Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:37PM
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Britain’s Revenue and Customs staff have staged a walk out in protest against more job cuts and privatization, boosting the fight for public services, local media reported.


At least 55,000 staff formed picket lines at tax offices across England and Scotland to stop the government's plans to axe 10,000 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) jobs on top of 30,000 that have gone since the department was formed in 2005, the daily Morning Star reported.

"This strike will show the government and senior management how important these jobs are, especially in a week where Jimmy Carr has been caught using tax avoidance schemes”, said branch organiser Dave Plummer from the picket line at Euston Tower in London.

"Yet at the same time they are laying off the people who would catch them."

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which organized the strikes, have also warned of "creeping privatization."

In Scotland, union members highlighted the shocking exploitation of HMRC workers who had been outsourced to private companies such as Sitel and Teleperformance.

"Workers doing our jobs for these companies are being paid £6.50 an hour and up to £6,000 less a year than the going rate for the job", said PCS HMRC group executive member John Davidson from East Kilbride.

He said workers were also subject to punitive measures such as contractual unpaid overtime, a £25 fine for lateness and a strict dress code despite having no face-to-face contact with the public.

PCS has pledged to continue a campaign of industrial action short of strike until the government reverses its policies.

MOL/JR/HE
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