Civil servants rally against government attacks

HMRC workers prove we are not 'all in this together'

HMRC protest

PCS members all over South Wales protested in their lunch hour today to send a warning to the government to expect civil servants to continue their determined campaign against cuts and privatisation in the new year.

It is clear that opposition is building momentum: today's lively protest outside HMRC in Llanishen, Cardiff, saw more activists participating than ever in the recent period.

Members were in high spirits, finding novel and unusual places to wear their PCS badges, but the mood turned serious when they began to discuss the newest series of attacks lined up against them.

One PCS rep told Socialist party members "They're getting ready to sack us on the cheap: they're planning to give even the lowest grades, AA and AO, 'mobile' status, meaning they can be asked to work elsewhere in the UK. This will give management a licence to shut facilities and expect workers to travel long distances to whatever sites are left, or resign without redundancy pay. They're also threatening to cancel flexible working for new employees." The cabinet office's claim that they plan to make the civil service 'a more fun place to work' was met with laughs of derision.

No-one is more certain than a tax office worker that "we're all in it together" is a lie. They all have stories about outrageous tax evasion and avoidance by the rich. One worker told me about a property tycoon who owns 2500 properties in London, each worth over a million pounds, who pays almost nothing in tax because he's set up each house as a separate company.

There were no illusions, either, that civil servants could remain apolitical in the face of such blatant inequality, and there was little faith in Labour's willingness to create an effective opposition. One worker explained, with disbelief, that the chair of the Public Accounts committee, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, is the millionaire heiress of the Oppenheimer steel fortune. The Telegraph revealed recently that her family company, Stemcor, paid just 0.01% on the 2.1bn it made last year. PCS recently won a ballot of its members to support candidates in elections, paving the way for PCS to get more involved in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which is already backed by the RMT.

Ross Saunders

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