Dec 142012
 

By Bob Smith.

Amazon, Google an Starbucks
Hiv avoided pyein some tax
Throwe a loophole in the law
Fit’s bin mair than a bittie lax

Multinationals they div employ
Accoontants tae fin sic wyes
Thae chiels are up tae scratch
An in tax laws are richt wise

You an me we pye oor dues
We micht hae a girn an sweir
An fit the tax mannie tells us
Is nae aye sae bliddy clear

It seems its nae agin the law
Fer firms tae use sic ploys
Bit morally it’s jist nae richt
If the law faavour’s “ big boys”

Time fowk pit a stop tae iss
Mak the slippery buggers think
Jist boycott the likes o Starbucks
Fin ye buy yer next coffee drink

Pye yer dues shud be the cry
Yer bunk balance micht tak a hit
Fit wye shud the rest o us suffer
Cos ye employ a tax swerving git

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012

Nov 242011
 

Brian J Carroll, a long serving Aberdeen Civil Servant takes a look at the crucial role the Civil and Public Services play in our day to day lives and argues that this should be gratefully acknowledged.

Lets be thankful for Civil and Public Sector employees !

I have worked in the public sector for over 30 years and have reason to be grateful to the public sector for employing me but also have reason to be grateful for the services other civil and public sector workers provide to me, showing that they have a dedication, commitment and loyalty second to none, in the service I and others within and in other services deliver to the public on a daily basis.
Once these services are gone they will never ever come back again!

Lets hear it for all the hard working, dedicated, committed and loyal civil and public servants who have provided me and no doubt a lot of you with the services we need to see us through life from cradle to grave:-

  • My school teachers who taught me my letters and numbers, to read and write, english, arithmetic and maths, foreign languages, history and science
  • The nurses who came round and inoculated us against TB, mumps and measles
  • The Doctors and nurses in GP practices and hospitals who looked after me when I needed them
  • The air traffic controllers who saw to it that my holiday and work flights took off and landed safely
  • The benefit officers who helped me out when I was unemployed, skint and looking for a job
  • The registrar for doing their job in respect of births, marriages and deaths
  • The midwives who helped in the safe delivery of my nieces and nephews
  • The court officials, administrators and Procurator Fiscals who ensure that justice works on a daily basis
  • The radiographers who X-rayed me
  • Those at the blood transfusion service who helped me to help others
  • The firemen who put out a fire in a flat next to mine a number of years ago and the policeman who assisted in clearing the flats next to the one on fire
  • The gardeners who keep our parks looking nice
  • The refuse collectors, without whom we would be in a terrible state
  • The social workers who help and assist people daily with their problems and issues
  • The paramedics who answer our calls for help, day and night
  • The court officials who assisted me in dealing with my fathers estate
  • The physiotherapist who helped me after breaking my foot at rugby
  • The police officers who answer our calls for help day and night
  • The HMRC staff who assist with Tax Returns
  • The DWP staff who assist us in getting benefits and finding jobs
  • The librarians who provide a reading facility and library second to none
  • The museum officials who continue our learning of this country and the world
  • The grave diggers and others who give us a place to rest and a dignified send off

All these people are to have their nationally agreed pension rights cruelly slashed. The government says:

“They have to take the pain just like everyone else.”

Just because private sector employers who make billions of pounds of profit offer their employees such lousy pensions or no pension at all, does not justify underpaying public service pensions when they are affordable, fair and actually costing the country and the taxpayer less as time goes on.

The average public sector pension is £5600. The average private sector pension is £5800, The average company directors pension is £175,000 – they still have final salary pensions; that is the real scandal and rip off of pensions in Britain today.

Nobody joins the civil and public sector to get rich. They do it to serve the public. They have a public service ethos. We should value that and thank them for it – not vilify them at every turn on the back of government rhetoric and lies.

Sep 302011
 

By Bob Smith.

Eence mair oor local “daily”
His cum up wi mair shite
“Is iss Scotland’s maist hated mannie?”
On their front page they did write

A cos a chiel stood his grun
An ti ridicule widna gie in
So some sneaky journalist buggers
Thocht the knife they wid stik in

A puckle fowk they wrote letters
An ti the editor fair pynted oot
They hid nae truck wi hatred
Ower the opposin o the AWPR route

Some 91% o us are supposed ti be
Agin Road Sense an their palaivers
Na Na, it’s 91% o five hunner an een
Faa’s opinion they did favour

Ti the P&J iss winna maitter
Iss wee bit slip o the quill
As lang as Wullie Walton bides hated
An thochts o Road Sense they are ill

The Daily Record an apology gied
Ti Neil Lennon an Celtic FC
Fer usin wirds like “hated”
Allied ti Rangers fecht wi HMRC

Noo jist fit is the difference
Fowk wid  hae the richt ti ask
“Hated” wis used in baith spiels
Yet only ae paper wis teen ti task

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011
Image credit: © Axel Drosta | Dreamstime.com 

 

Jul 012011
 

In a week where the media have been vilifying public sector workers taking strike action to protest at government cuts and pension changes, little coverage has been given to alternative proposals for dealing with the UK’s economic deficit. Patrick V Neville gives his views.

On June 30 we visited two picket lines and attended a meeting of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) to understand their feelings on cuts in public services and to show support for the workers who, against the wishes of the government, organised strike action.
Needless to say, PCS members we spoke to felt unhappy about our nation’s financial situation.

If the full cuts proposed are implemented, one in every five public service jobs would be lost, adding further to the UK’s unemployment rate. Not only could there be fewer jobs, but those who will still have a job available to them face cuts to their pension schemes.

Each worker in government pension schemes could see their contributions doubled or even tripled. To the best of my knowledge, this extra money contributed will initially end up in government funds – but with rising poverty, corporate tax avoidance and evasion and rising prices of consumer goods, will there even be money available for pensions in a few years time? If so, will the cost of living become too expensive for the average person to survive?

Investment in jobs and public services must be in place if we desire a future free from poverty and we could avoid the majority of public services cuts if we take the right course of action.

Corporate tax loopholes are estimated to be costing the tax payer £25 billion a year.

Since moving its headquarters to Switzerland, Boots has reduced its annual tax bill from £100m to £14m, a saving enough to employ 4000 NHS nurses.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/11/boots-switzerland-uk

Rather than closing tax loopholes, we are making cuts in the public sector.

Billionaire Sir Philip Green is to advise the government on how best to plan for the cuts, rewarding himself hugely in doing so. Sir Philip is the owner of the Arcadia retail group which includes Topshop, Topman, Burton, BHS, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge. The company is registered in the name of Sir Philip’s wife Tina, who resides in Monaco and therefore pays no UK income tax. This arrangement has allowed the Greens to save around £300m in UK taxes.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/03/topshop-philip-green-tax-avoidance-protest

Tax evasion and avoidance aside, who have we bailed out?

The Royal Bank of Scotland was rescued with £45 billion of public money. This represents over half of the £81 billion planned in cuts over the next four years. Rather than being allowed to stay open, the bank should have come to terms with closure.

Public spending cuts are more damaging, and minimising them and their effect is more important than encouraging risk-taking bankers to carry on trading.

UK Uncut has leafleted members of the public near the premises of targeted retailers to inform them of tax avoiding measures taken by these retailers.
http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/

I would encourage anyone wishing to preserve a future free from poverty to choose where they shop carefully, to write to politicians and businessmen, to contact journalists to demand coverage of tax avoidance and evasion and simply to consider bringing up these issues with friends and relatives.

Jun 292011
 

 With thanks to Mark Chapman.

Civil and public servants across the UK and from within Aberdeen & Inverness Revenue & Customs Branch, will be joining teachers, head teachers and university lecturers striking against attacks on pensions, jobs and services on 30th June.

The government wants to make public servants work at least:-

  • 8 years longer,
  • pay double or triple more per month
  • not get any benefit from that whatsoever to receive a reduced pension
  • accept real term pay cuts of 10% which is not only affecting the standard of living of public servants, but is already reducing the worth of their future pension entitlement

They say  ‘we are all in this together’ but the bankers are still getting their multi-million pound bonuses for failed banks owned by the taxpayer and the majority of the cabinet are millionaires.

In PCS Aberdeen & Inverness Revenue & Customs Branch we will be striking on 30 June.  There will be picket lines at all branch offices, but in Aberdeen as well as having a picket line, PCS representatives and members will also be joining together for a union breakfast followed by a cross unions meeting in the Aberdeen Trades Union Council Social Club at Adelphi at 12pm.

With inflation at over 5% in the last 2 years, the current pay freeze on Civil Servants pay actually represents a real terms pay cut of at least 10%. Probably more when you take account of rising costs. We have also had an increase in National Insurance contributions and VAT. Aberdeen PCS members’ standards of living have already been severely attacked and eroded and we are not prepared to accept any further cuts when they are totally unnecessary, especially when it is clear that the increased pensions contributions we are being asked to pay are going to pay off the deficit; these increased contributions are not being invested for the benefit of the employees.

There is £120 Billion of unpaid, evaded or avoided Tax to be collected and the UK, the 6th largest economy in the world, holds £850 billion in banking assets from the bailout of the banks – this is more than the national debt.

Mark Chapman, Branch Chair of Aberdeen & Inverness Revenue & Customs Branch of PCS Union said:

“The government admits that money cut from pensions will go straight to the Treasury to help pay off the deficit in what is nothing more than a tax on working in the civil and public sector. The very modest pay and pensions of public servants did not cause the recession, so they should not be blamed, punished or demonised for it.

“Unless ministers abandon their ideological plans to hollow out and attack the public sector in the way they propose, they will face industrial action on a mass scale on 30 June and beyond.”

An AO (Admin Officer), 38 yrs of age added:

“I’ve worked out that I will pay an extra £48.75 per month, have to work 7 years longer than I expected and will lose approximately £19,000 from my pension too.

“I cannot afford this. I already struggle to make it to pay day at the end of the month and this all because this government wants me and people like me to pay for a crisis caused by failed banks and the irresponsible non-investment decisions of those who run those banks.

“This is not equality of sacrifice, is not fair and is criminally unjust. This is on top of an expected pay freeze which is already making life harder for me and is already hitting the future worth of my pension”

There will be picket lines outside most major HMRC buildings and other Civil Service buildings, and services to the public will be disrupted.

Striking Aberdeen PCS Union members will join teachers, other striking workers and representatives from other Unions at various meetings and rallies up and down the country, showing support and solidarity for this action.

PCS, the Public and Commercial Services Union is the largest Civil Service Union. It has over 290,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies throughout the UK. It also represents workers in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS Union is the UK’s sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC.  For further info See: http://www.pcs.org.uk/

 

Mar 042011
 

With thanks to Mark Chapman.

HM Revenue and Customs proposals to cut the days the tax enquiry centre in Aberdeen will open, will drastically reduce frontline services, the Public and Commercial Services union warns.

The enquiry centre is currently open each weekday offering face to face tax advice but from May HMRC is proposing to reduce this to only 3 days a week. The PCS, which represents staff at the office, is concerned this will hit pensioners and those claiming tax credits the hardest as they are the centre’s most frequent callers.

They have also warned it will lead to more problems for people with enquiries caused by the PAYE computer system fiasco.

Mark Chapman, PCS Aberdeen & Inverness Revenue & Customs Branch Chair said.

Enquiry centre users often travel miles to visit the office to sort out their tax problems. We are worried that when they get here, they will find it closed, and have to come back another day.

We are also concerned that with opening times reduced, customers may have to wait some time for an appointment. Many of these people rely on tax credits or are pensioners and cannot afford to wait or spend more to get here. They will be inconvenienced by these plans.

The enquiry centres also provide telephones and internet access. This saves people the cost of ringing from home and they feel more confident as local staff are available to give advice if needed.

HMRC aims to persuade more people to use the internet or telephone but many people still do not have access to the internet or do not feel comfortable using it to get advice about financial matters. Staffing has been reduced in HMRC contact centres and they are currently only able to answer less than 50% of calls.

PCS is urging people to email mailbox.f2fchangeteam@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk to respond to HMRC’s consultation on the reduction of opening times.

Notes

– For more information contact Mark Chapman on 0798 447 9628

– The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector.  PCS is the UK’s sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC.  The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich

– Follow PCS on Twitter http://twitter.com/pcs_union

 

Oct 292010
 

With thanks to Mark Chapman.

Up to two hundred and thirty seven local jobs in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs are at risk, warned Public & Commercial Services Union today, following George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review announcement.

Local Union Leader Mark Chapman issued the warning after Osborne announced cuts of more than 15% in the HMRC budget, and HMRC Chief Executive Lesley Strathie announced to staff that upwards of thirteen thousand additional jobs would be lost.

Previously agreements won by the Union have offered protection to staff in ‘strategic’ offices, and have secured transfers to those sites for staff in other locations.  In this new climate of cuts, all bets are off, and all HMRC offices once again face the risk of closure.

No definitive announcements have been made yet on which offices are to close, but insiders suggest that the Department will be seeking to utilise any lease breaks available to them, regardless of location, to carry out cuts as quickly as possible.

Mr Chapman said, “As a matter of priority, we will be seeking confirmation from the Department of the lease breaks that exist on the rented office space at Ruby House, Ruby Place Aberdeen.

There is £123,000 million that could be collected in tax that is immorally dodged

“We believe that members deserve candour and honesty from their employer at this difficult time, but instead local managers’ hands are tied by the desire to provide as much publicity as possible for George Osborne and his pals.”

Local frustrations and concerns are not divorced from the wider national picture, though, said Mr Chapman; “There is £123,000 million that could be collected in tax that is immorally dodged.  HMRC staff could and should be collecting that money, and so we reject entirely the notion that jobs should be lost where people could be redeployed usefully to getting that money in.

The PCS supported the buses running from Aberdeen to the “There is a Better Way” demonstration in Edinburgh on Saturday 23 October, and at the demonstration our members gave vent to their frustrations with a Government that is hell bent on cuts at any cost.”

  • PCS, the Public and Commercial Services Union is the union representing civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 270,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies. It also represents workers in parts of government transferred to the private sector.  Over 34,000 members are based in Scotland.  PCS is the UK’s sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president Janice Godrich.  The Scottish Secretary is Lynn Henderson.
  • For further information, please contact Mark Chapman, PCS Aberdeen & Inverness Revenue & Customs Branch President on 0798 447 9628.