Back the pay campaign

Members have been betrayed on pay again

Thousands of PCS members attended workplace meetings at the end of 2018 and you told us very clearly that you believe that the pay cap is having an impact, not just on the morale of staff, but also adversely impacting the day-to-day running of HMRC. Recruitment and retention of staff is a major problem, and valuable experience is being lost at a time when the spectre of Brexit, means we can ill-afford it.

Following the PCS pay meetings your negotiators put your feedback to HMRC, this included your unanimously held views that any 2019 pay increases should be fully-funded with new money from the Treasury, rather than being as a result of any cost savings made from cuts to members’ terms and conditions.

Despite HMRC agreeing to acknowledge this principle, it became very clear in the materials provided to PCS, that their current thinking still involves looking at what they call ‘modernisation’ and other ‘cost neutral’ solutions to the current pay issues.

The PCS national executive committee (NEC) met at the beginning of December and agreed the strategy for the 2019 pay campaign. NEC members were told that evidence had been unearthed during the recent Judicial Review of the 2018 Treasury Pay Remit Guidance, which clearly showed that – despite departments talking to PCS at a delegated level over pay – these talks were shown to be little more than a sham, with no real room for those individual departments to make any of their own decisions about the level of pay increases. As PCS has always believed, decisions are still being taken much higher up in Whitehall.

Documents that emerged show that in February 2018, several weeks before any discussions took place with PCS at any level, representatives from civil service departments met in secret and agreed to limit all civil service pay increases to between 1–1.5%. This tells us that any delegated pay talks are in essence meaningless; and that in order to challenge the pay cap, we must take our fight to those who make the decisions. For this reason the NEC has taken the decision to suspend all departmental 2019 pay talks; and to pursue civil service-wide improvements through the union’s national campaign.

What this means for members in Revenue and Customs group is that we have now written to HMRC to set out that we are suspending any local pay talks from the end of December. This is because it is now completely clear that they have no delegated authority to meet our reasonable demand for a fully funded pay increase – one that does not come at the cost of detrimental changes to our terms and conditions of service.

This position was reiterated when PCS met the chief executive on 17 December 2018, and in response, he recognised that after nine years of pay restraint, members in HMRC are facing real financial pressures; but made it clear that there was no prospect of meeting what PCS considers to be a reasonable claim. It is clear that the only way for us to achieve the pay rise that we deserve is by pressuring both HMRC and the Treasury as part of the national pay campaign. We now need all members to get behind the national campaign and take part in the upcoming ballot.

Marianne Owens
Assistant group secretary

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