At its meeting in September the PCS Revenue and Customs group executive committee (GEC) agreed to consult members over pay. The decision to consult was framed by: the recent decision of the employer to once again impose an inadequate pay award; the outcome of the recent PCS national ballot and the rejection by PCS members in the MoJ (Ministry of Justice) of a multi-year pay offer predicated on a range of changes to terms and conditions.
In the national ballot PCS achieved a record turnout and vote for action with the turnout and vote in HMRC above the average for the whole of PCS. Reports from the members meetings held over the final two weeks of September confirm that the membership anger in the department over pay is strong.
Over the last decade government imposed pay restraint and a freeze on progression through grades has meant that staff in HMRC have seen an after-inflation pay cut of around 17%, amounting to a loss of thousands of pounds for every PCS member.
Endemic low pay in HMRC has led to an untenable situation where the department that says it strives to be the premier tax collection agency in the world is struggling to recruit and retain staff due to its below-market rate pay scales.
Pay is so low in HMRC that the department is forced to pay an in-year increase to AA grade staff just to meet the same national minimum wage it is the department’s job to enforce.
PCS believe that HMRC are in crisis over pay and is demanding that urgent action is taken by HMRC to address members’ demands for fair pay.
HMRC have said that in order to obtain any increased funding for pay there will need to be, what they term, ‘modernisation’ of the current pay system. PCS is clear that members are not willing to accept detrimental changes to terms and conditions in exchange for pay.
The GEC has indicated that it is willing to engage with HMRC on future pay arrangements but based on the following principles:
- Any talks are without prejudice to the PCS national position regarding the need to return to civil service-wide pay bargaining
- The problems with the current pay arrangements can only be solved with a significant increase in available funds for pay
- PCS has clear policies on opposing detrimental changes to terms, conditions and working arrangements
- PCS will keep members updated on the progress of discussions; and would expect to be able to utilise departmental facilities and systems to do this
- PCS will fully consult members on any emerging proposals
Preliminary talks on pay are due to start during October & further reports on any developments will be provided via briefings to members and branches.