Monday, 13 October 2014

Revenue & Customs: Time for a new Union

Guest Post by Margaret Rathbone

After 7 years as a leading activist and Senior negotiator in PCS Revenue and Customs Ive decided to launch a new Trade union. No easy task I can assure you but one that Ive began borne out of a real fear that PCS as an organisation is unfit for purpose and HMRC staff will lose their iindependent voice with the employer.

Eleven years of stagnated leadership has turned PCS into the pseudo political party that it is today. PCS has continuously put politics ahead of member interests. Confrontation, not conciliation is their watchword - they broke up the council of civil service unions, thereby ensuring members are left with no real negotiating forum with the Cabinet Office – which is why they are consistently ignored at National level.

Because they have no forum PCS National Union abrogates their responsibilities to Groups, encouraging them to manufacture disputes, leading to the latest debacle in HMRC where members and activist have no idea what they are striking for. Having no real basis for a trade dispute, HMRC have added everything plus the kitchen sink to their list of unrealistic demands – one of their demands is to insist the employer work against RCTUnion and kill it off.

Revenue and Customs Trade Union is different from PCS – and we know what we can deliver for you.

As an elected representative who has held the trust and confidence of HMRC members for 7 years, I know that our new organisation can offer you effective representation and real achievements without constantly resorting to strike action that achieves no tangible benefits

There is a squeezed middle in HMRC – the O – SO managers who are pressurised from above and below trying to keep up staff morale, implement the bureaucracy of PMR with huge management spans. Our E&C operational staff, struggling to keep pace with changes with clunky and unworkable IT systems, outdated software and ever-increasing yield targets. Our PT colleagues delivering excellent customer service while coping with the transition to a digital agenda that even the employer is struggling to understand. You are the people that PCS is failing because they don’t have the expertise, ability or the willingness to address it, preferring to fight unwinnable battles and ignoring the big strategic changes that will affect HMRC core workforce for the next 10 years and more.

I am building a team of trade unionists that know the issues because they, like you are at the sharp end. They know the Compliance business inside out, they have managed teams, they have the contacts and are respected and listened to by senior management. They are not interested in playing politics, not controlled by factions who do not countenance sensible debate – we have one objective – to work for you as directed by you.

RCTU reps will consult and engage directly with you, swiftly and regularly using methods that you want, whether that’s post, email, text, telephone, social media. They will tap into your knowledge and formulate a negotiating platform that is constructive but challenges the employer, that engages but does not acquiesce and tackles the issues in HMRC that are foremost on your agenda.

Its time for change in HMRC - staff realise this and have been waiting for an alternative to come to the fore that is modern and responsive to members needs and wishes.

We are the alternative – visit us on www.rctunion.org.uk, follow us on twitter @rctunion – join us and be part of a new order in HMRC.

A comment on the current Strike

Disengagement with PCS is endemic and no wonder! 

Speaking to members its clear they don’t know why they are being asked to take strike action. When I questioned the HMRC GEC about the fact that branches keep telling them members don’t want one day strikes, the answer was – that members DO want them, the activists need them to show the GEC is “strong” and the members need to suffer to strengthen their resolve. YES REALLY!! Well I don’t know about you but 10 years of pay cuts and 5 years of austerity is suffering enough without having to lose 4 days pay in 2 months as well. 

This blas̩ attitude that relies on the loyalty of members and their intrinsic belief that trade unions are good is destroying the core of what unions are about Рsolidarity, fellowship, caring for others and improving working conditions.

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