Cold-hearted HM Revenue
& Customs management in North Wales have introduced a Spartan regime
that includes a ban on family snaps at their workstations. Departments have
also been hit with a food veto, and workers are said to be restricted to just
one cup, a pen and a pencil.
Unions accused the government of treating staff like robots and wasting
public cash on ‘hare-brained’ schemes.
‘This brave new world is not only de-skilling hard-working staff but
dehumanising them,’ said Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the
Public and Commercial Services
Union. ‘It’s ridiculous that this group of ‘plan to improve service’ workers
is being banned from having things such as a photo of a loved one on their
The ban affects processing staff in tax offices covered by the LEAN programme
– a controversial working method introduced earlier this year. The move has
already led to a work-to-rule among 14,000 civil servants across the country.
A leaked memo, sent to staff in Wrexham and Rhyl, lists essentials and
non-essentials for workstations: ‘Essential: a computer, document holder,
calculator, pens, desk and chair. Non-essential: personal papers, memorabilia,
packed lunches, personal shopping, handbags or money’.
One union member in North Wales said the edict was ‘barmy.’ She added: ‘A
worker had a banana on his desk and was asked whether it was active or inactive.
Then he was told to move it or eat it because it was inactive. It’s ridiculous.’
The government claims the £7m LEAN programme will save about £160m a year
when it is rolled out fully over the next 18 months, but unions fear it will
lead to 8,000 job losses and the closure of tax offices.
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