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Call centre plans spark SA day strikes

20 January 2012
Issue: 4338 / Categories: News , call centres , PCS , Admin
Thousands to protest on 31 Jan against privatisation trials

A plan by HMRC to hand over part of their call centre operations to private business has sparked industrial action that is expected to involve 20,000 public sector workers on self assessment deadline day.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) will go on strike on 31 January in protest at the companies Sitel and Teleperformance taking over the taxman’s call-handling operations for trail periods in Lillyhall, Cumbria, and Bathgate, West Lothian, respectively.

The year-long pilot schemes, which will begin in early February, have led to the union fearing they could pave the way for privatisation in the Revenue. PCS members in the department’s call centres and enquiry offices took part in two lightning walkouts of 30 minutes each on Monday, in a dispute that involves employees of the personal tax operations division.

In response to the threatened day of action, HMRC denied they intend to privatise ‘existing… contact centre jobs’.

‘We are determined to improve the service we provide,’ said a spokesperson. ‘This means considering a variety of options, including drawing on the knowledge and experience of external contact centre operators.

‘Industrial action is unwarranted and unnecessary. We are doing everything possible to maintain contact centre services to the public, and will continue talking to the unions to address their concerns.’

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) offered qualified support to the Revenue's plan to trial the use of private call-handling firms, welcoming ‘any attempt by HMRC to improve service standards’ as long employees of Sitel and Teleperformance are given ‘the same level of training as HMRC staff’.

‘We will, of course, be taking a keen interest in the outcome of the trial and we continue to work closely with HMRC to improve the quality of the service received by tax professionals and taxpayers,’ said a CIOT representative.


Issue: 4338 / Categories: News , call centres , PCS , Admin
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