ARC, the union for senior managers in HMRC, has voted for strike action on Friday 14 February. At the same time PCS, the union for clerical grade staff, has not called any action. The Civil Service Rank & File Network urges all tax workers – regardless of grade, section or union membership – to refuse to cross picket lines on the day of the action.
ARC’s dispute is over the imposition of new terms and conditions by the Cabinet Office – a matter rank-and-file civil servants have held walkout about on several occasions before – and a new performance management system aimed at sacking the bottom 10% of staff. PCS is, technically, in dispute over the new system, although they have taken no action around it and in HMRC are currently cooperating with management to analyse mid-year results which it is already clear are highly discriminatory and live up to workers’ worst fears about the system.
The strike on Friday will mark the second strike by ARC, the first being November 30 2011 over pensions, and the first time that they have been out when their lower grade counterparts are not. This is the result of several consultative and statutory ballots, throughout which members of ARC defied the wishes of their union leaders to agree to the changes.
PCS’s position is more damning, since instructions from their Revenue & Customs Group Conference for a strike ballot over terms and conditions and for non-cooperation up to and including strike action with the performance system have not been followed by their Group Executive Committee. This is a clear betrayal of their membership by a majority-left wing executive whose views appear more in tune with the few so-called moderates on the committee than with the rank-and-file.
The Civil Service Rank & File Network believes that not crossing picket lines should be a key principle of any organised workforce. If management know that we will betray each others’ disputes based on separate union membership they will be better able to divide and conquer us, while if we all stand together in solidarity with one another we have that much greater a chance of winning. An injury to one is an injury to all.
Attached is a leaflet you can distribute and use to start conversations with your fellow workers about why not breaking the strike is important.
We will also be arranging a communications blockade of the HMRC Chief Executive Lin Homer for the day of the strike to allow others to increase disruption to the department and demonstrate support for HMRC staff.
HMRC staff are on strike on Friday 14 February. Don’t break the strike and don’t cross a picket line.
Solidarity and Happy Valentines Day!