Thousands of Revenue and Customs workers set to vote on strike action

Thousands of Revenue and Customs workers are to start voting on whether to disrupt the final deadline for self assessemnt tax returns by staging a one-day strike on 31 January.

The walkout, in protest at job cuts and office closures at HMRC, will go ahead if there is a yes vote by members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union.

The union accused the department of “ploughing on” with closures and job losses despite deteriorating services and problems such as the recent loss of discs containing the personal details of 25 million people.

Up to 250 offices face closure and 25,000 jobs lost by 2011, leaving staff having to work overtime or see consultants hired to mask the impact of the cuts, said the union.

PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said: “It is lunacy for HMRC to plough ahead with closing more than 250 offices and cutting a further 12,500 jobs by 2011.

“As HMRC’s own staff survey indicates, morale is dangerously low. These are some of the most loyal staff, responsible for collecting taxes to build schools and hospitals, securing our borders and overseeing the payment of tax credits.”

An HMRC spokesman told The Guardian: “We have invited the trade unions to talks and asked them to suspend their strike ballot while these talks take place.”

The ballot is expected to close on 23 January with result announced shortly afterwards.

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