Tax workers strike against privatisation

Strikers defy the cold to defend services

Unilever pickets

PCS members in Cardiff were picketing old-school today, as workers in HMRC PTOps took strike action against plans to privatise the contact-centre service they provide. The branch, clearly expecting a lot of industrial action in the next period, has invested in a brazier and had a merry blaze going as they set up outside the Tax Office in Llanishen early this morning. Socialist Party members who visited the picketline were "warmly" welcomed.

Despite the number of cars in the parking lot, it was clear that the strike was well-supported. Unlike a standard morning, few were sharing their cars and reports from well-placed spies in the building made it clear that those were going in were a section not balloted for strike action. The floors covered by PTOps were deserted, said our source. If confirmation were needed, it came when the pickets rang two enquiry lines and were told by one to expect severe delays and by another to ring back because the service was shut!

Members felt grim satisfaction that the value of their labour had been demonstrated by withdrawing it. "We take one day's strike action and they have to take an extra two to sort out the mess!" pointed out one rep. The Guardian had earlier reported that the deadline for self-assessment tax returns had been put back until the 2nd February.

There was pride on the picket line that PCS's leaders had stood firm and led the way in rejecting the Pensions sellout before Christmas. Everyone recognised that privatisation plans and the worsening of conditions would be accelated if pension cuts made it cheaper to TUPE workers over to the private sector. There was anger, too, at the Labour leadership's support for cuts and some interest in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition's plans to stand in the local elections in Cardiff, which was very positive: we'll need workers from HMRC if we're going to make the rich pay for the crisis.

Ross Saunders

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