HMRC should marginalise PCS if agreement can’t be found, says leaked strategy paper

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) should “marginalise” the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) if disputes cannot “be ended by agreement”, recommends a strategy paper on employee and industrial relations leaked yesterday. 

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By Sarah.Aston

14 Nov 2014

Written for HMRC’s executive committee by the agency’s deputy director, employee relations and advice, the paper advises HMRC to restrict its discussions with PCS, a 270,000 strong trade union, to a minimum if disputes over pay and pensions and jobs and staffing cannot be resolved.

“As things stand, PCS believes that outright opposition to everything serves members’ interests more strongly than achievement of change in a way which, as far as is possible, protects the legitimate interests of people impacted by change,” the document states.

Reflecting this assessment, the paper proposes a two-pronged approach to future relations with the union.

HMRC should first “explore with PCS whether the current HMRC dispute can be ended by agreement on future handling arrangements covering those matters which impact people” but if this cannot be achieved the department should “aim to marginalise PCS by maintaining dialogue only to meet statutory minimum requirements”, proposes the paper.  

Also mentioned in the strategy paper is HMRC’s relationship with the Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC) with the recommendation to continue engagement with the union after they called off their dispute over civil service reform changes.

The paper states: “The current position and recommendations for next steps are different for ARC and PCS reflecting the fact that these are very different organisations with a diverse approach.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka commented: "This orchestrated plot to undermine a union that represents three quarters of HMRC staff is further evidence of the creeping politicisation of the civil service.”

Asked for a response, a spokesperson at HMRC said: "HMRC does not comment on the specifics of leaked documents.

“HMRC has been very open with all our staff that we will continue to reduce in size, to become more highly-skilled and to operate from fewer locations, in line with our Spending Review settlements.

“As we go through these changes, we remain committed to engaging in constructive dialogue, both directly with our staff and with the unions.”

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