News : Cumbria Call Centre Workers to Strike in Row Over Privatisation
Dec 12, 2011 -- Thousands of tax workers will stage strike action today.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) is taking action in separate disputes over jobs and privatisation of services and a sickness absence system it claims is "punitive".
At the centre of the privatisation row is a call centre at Lillyhall, near Workington.
The PCS say its members will walk out for three hours from midday in protest at plans to hand "sensitive data" to private companies, which they fear will lead to job cuts.
It claims about 20,000 members will be involved in the industrial action against a year-long trial to use private staff in Cumbria and another centre in Scotland. PCS officials said private staff will handle enquiries about tax credits and will have access to sensitive data about people entitled to claim them.
The union said that instead of cutting more jobs and "wasting" public money on a private sector trial, the department should use existing staff to help out at peak times in the call centres.
In a separate dispute, all the union’s members in HMRC’s offices across the UK will walk out between 12pm and 2pm in opposition to a new sickness absence system, which the PCS said threatens staff with disciplinary action instead of supporting them back to work.
The latest action over the "attendance management" policy follows walkouts in June.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Our members have very serious concerns about this creeping privatisation into HM Revenue and Customs and, as well as the threat to their jobs, they do not think such sensitive data should be handed over to private firms.
"This is also happening at a time when senior managers are trying to bring in an unnecessarily punitive and counter-productive sick policy that seeks to penalise people for being ill, rather than support them."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Contact Center World. (www.ContactCenterWorld.com), The Global Association for Contact Center Best Practices & Networking
Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
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