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  • We’re being taken to the cleaners’ say striking staff at town’s tax office

    Tom Martin

    PROTESTS were held outside tax office buildings in Bootle this week as union members and politicians formed picket lines over “low pay, poor conditions and job insecurity” for cleaners.

    Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) members who work as cleaners for private contractor ISS in HMRC buildings held a two day protest on Monday, July 15 and Tuesday, July 16.

    They formed a picket line outside The Triad and Litherland House, both in Bootle, and took part in a “buoyant rally” which was supported by Bootle and Sefton Central MPs Peter Dowd and Bill Esterson.

    MP Dowd said: "Labour in government will put an end to outsourcing and exploitation of workers like those involved in this dispute in Bootle, they have my full support in this fight.”

    MP Esterson, who is Labour’s Shadow Business Minister, spoke at the rally on Monday outside The Triad and said: “The scandal of exploitation of low paid workers in government departments must end. A real living wage is the least that hard working cleaners in HMRC offices should be paid."

    PCS NW Regional Secretary, Claire Jones added: “It is an absolute disgrace how ISS have treated our members. Cleaners do a vital job keeping HMRC in Liverpool and Bootle functioning. Yet they are not paid a decent wage or treated properly at work.

    “ISS has form when it comes to not running government contracts properly as we have seen in BEIS where our members have been on strike. This is why all contracted out workers must be brought back in house, paid civil service wages and given civil service terms and conditions."

    The PCS also claim that cleaners are affected by the HMRC decision to close the Bootle branches by 2020 and relocate staff to a new headquarters in the city centre.

    The HMRC revealed in 2015 that the town’s tax offices would be closed and a new 'super call centre' created in India Buildings in Liverpool.

    The move was described by MP Dowd as a “betrayal of Bootle”, with concerns over how it will affect the town's economy as thousands of workers move out of the area.

    PCS NW Regional Secretary, Claire Jones said: “These workers are also threatened by the ongoing programme of HMRC office closures. Further hardship has also been caused by ISS changing the pay interval, which is how often workers get paid.”

    Other strikes were also held this week outside HMRC buildings Imperial Court and Regian House, both in Liverpool city centre.


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