Cleaners, activists and some members of the civil service gathered outside HMRC's London HQ last week with placards and had “Don’t wash your hands off us, Lin Homer” written on their palms.
The cleaners have previously written to the HMRC asking for a meeting to discuss the Living Wage, which is now £8.80 an hour in London.
HMRC raised the wages of its cleaners in 100 Parliament Street, yet wages of cleaners elsewhere at Euston Tower, Custom House and Bush House remain the same (minimum wage of £6.50 an hour).
In a letter to Lin Homer, chief executive of HMRC, the Whitehall cleaners argue that although they are subcontracted through a cleaning company, it is ultimately the responsibility of the government department to ensure a just wage.
The cleaners state in the letter sent in July, as per the Guardian:
"We work hard to keep the offices clean, but we are paid less than it costs to live. Due to our low pay many of us have two or even three jobs to make ends meet, working long hours, leaving the house at 4.30am and not returning until past 9pm.”In an email seen by the Guardian, Lin Homer refused to meet with the cleaners and last month replied:
"I understand your concerns about wage levels and the cost of living but these are matters for employees and employers. HMRC is not the employer so I do not believe that a meeting would have any impact on the issue at this point. You are employed by an external contractor so any concerns you have about your terms and conditions is better dealt with by them.”She is technically correct. However, the real issue is the fact that HMRC is outsourcing some/many of its functions.
The question therefore is are these outsourced functions being performed as well/better/securely (and at no greater cost) than when they were done in house?
Tax does have to be taxing.
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