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News : Revenue ‘Justified’ in Outsourcing Property Tax Calls
Cork, Ireland, Jan 11, 2016 -- Revenue was justified in extending the original contract to outsource call centre services in support of the local property tax (LPT), despite objections by one of the civil service unions, an arbitration board has ruled.
The Civil Public and Services Union claimed the tax authorities had breached an agreement that trade unions would be consulted before the contract could be extended.
However, the Civil Service Arbitration Board (CSAB) found the extension of the original contract in March 2014 for a further two years was both "reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances of the LPT being still in its initial period of establishment".
Nevertheless, it said the consultative process undertaken by Revenue was not as envisaged when the issue was the subject of a previous CSAB hearing in 2013.
The CSAB noted that the extension was justified as there was likely to have been a significant number of customer queries coming up to the end of 2015 with associated payments in early 2016.
It recommended that Revenue should engage in a "more considered and detailed consultative process" for any future proposal to extend the contract.
The contract, which has been operated since 2013 by Abtran, a Cork-based call centre services provider, is due to expire in March.
The CPSU said there was no reason why Revenue’s own staff could not provide such a service.
It complained that Revenue had not kept its promise to engage in "a meaningful consultation" regarding the extension of the original contract.
"There has been no reasonable explanation why this work cannot be carried out in-house," said a CPSU spokesperson. "The need to outsource core work no longer exists as the work is no longer temporary." It is understood that the outsourcing of the service has already cost Revenue almost €11m.
The CPSU, which represents more than 13,000 civil servants including 2,400 Revenue staff, argued that the requirement to outsource for the LPT is no longer cost efficient. It said the work was capable of being performed in-house by hiring additional permanent clerical officers.
In response, Revenue said it had provided the union with any information it had sought, with the exception of commercially sensitive material.
The CSAB was informed at a hearing in November that there would be additional pressure on support services as a full revaluation of properties was due to take place in May 2016.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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The Revenue Commissioners, usually referred to simply as Revenue, is the Irish Government agency responsible for customs, excise, taxation and related matters.
About Civil Public and Services Union:
The Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU), is an Irish trade union for clerical and administrative grades in the civil service, the wider public sector and the private sector. It is a member of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2016