800 HMRC staff take industrial action over pay on Aspire contract

More than 800 IT workers on HM Revenue and Custom’s (HMRC) £750 million a year Aspire contract are taking industrial action today in a dispute over pay, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has announced.

The union’s members work for Capgemini, the main supplier to the Aspire contract, which provides desktops, laptops, and tax and credit systems to HMRC. Capgemini has been confirmed as HMRC’s system and service integrator through to 2017.

Those taking industrial action largely work across sites in Telford, Worthing and Aston in Birmingham.

Members will start by taking industrial action short of a strike, including a work to rule, withdrawal of goodwill and refusal to do unpaid overtime, but have not ruled out stepping this up.

This comes as the union’s 55,000 civil service members in HMRC are involved in joint regional strikes all this week with their colleagues from the Department for Work and Pensions.

PCS said that the Aspire account remains profitable and it is ‘wrong and opportunistic’ for the company to deny pay awards to 25 percent of its staff.

It also said that negotiations with the company are being hampered by a lack of transparency in the pay process and Capgemini’s refusal to share data relating to newer staff who are not covered by the union recognition agreement.

“Our members only consider industrial action as an absolute last resort, but this year almost 25 percent of staff are being forced to accept a pay freeze and we fear that next year it could be up to 50 percent,” said Chris Morrison, PCS Capgemini representative.

“This is all taking place on a massively profitable contract that requires the goodwill of skilled and experienced workers."

A Capgemini spokesperson said: “It is difficult to predict how many PCS members will take part in industrial action at this time. There will be no impact in terms of customer services to HMRC and all IT services will be maintained.”

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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