PCS members working in the HMRC office in International House, Ealing, reacted with fury at today’s announcement by management that the planned closure of their office is being brought forward to June 2020.
PCS had already strongly advised management against making any substantive announcement, given that the promised talks with PCS have yet to begin.
Although management did amend their central message, to confirm that the announcement of the closure was ‘without prejudice to the talks which will take place with the union’, the decision to bring forward the closure of International House has been seen by members as, at best, open provocation; and at worst, a cynical attempt at retribution against members who have taken strike action to fight for their jobs.
Management intend to start holding 1:1 meetings with staff four weeks from now. In these 1:1s, members will effectively be asked whether they will be able to transfer to a site that won’t be open by the time their office closes, using a transport link that not only doesn’t exist now, but isn’t expected by MPs to be open by the time their office closes.
PCS remains committed to negotiating in good faith, to try to reach a resolution that is satisfactory to both sides, and we will enter the forthcoming talks in this spirit. However, members have made it clear that the department’s current approach will only invite the most robust response from members.
Martin Kelsey, PCS Revenue and Customs group secretary, said:
“Our general secretary, Mark Serwotka, has met with the Ealing strikers several times, and has taken their case directly to the chief Executive of HMRC. The general secretary has made it totally clear to the very top of the department that our members in International House can count on the whole-hearted support of the union, in the campaign to defend their jobs and the essential service they provide.”
An urgent Ealing all-members meeting is being arranged for the coming week, where PCS will report to members on initial talks with the department, and members will consider the appropriate response.