Labour claims Cumbernauld Tax Office jobs are under threat from #IndyRef ‘Yes’ vote

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 19:21 on 24 August 2014.
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Labour activists claim independence threatens 1,400 jobs at the site.                                                                                                             Picture: Scottish Labour/ Twitter.
 




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INDEPENDENCE threatens the livelihoods of some 1,400 employees at HMRC’s Accounts Office in Cumbernauld, the Labour Party has warned.

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East’s Labour MP, Gregg McClymont, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Jim Murphy MP and Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, Anas Sarwar, outside Cumbernauld Tax Office, earlier this month to issue the chilling proclamation that independence could wipe out the some 1,400 jobs at the site.

The Scottish Labour Party shared an image of the trio outside the office, with the caption, “1400 jobs at HMRC in Cumbernauld are dependent on us staying in the UK”, as part of a warning that a ‘Yes’ vote in next month’s independence referendum could devastate Cumbernauld.

McClymont, Murphy and Sarwar congregated outside the Tax Office, on St Mungo’s Road last Wednesday (13th August) to issue their dire warning – and to urge local voters to say “No Thanks” to Scottish independence in next month’s referendum.

The Labour trio were at the site to stage a short and sweet ‘No Thanks’ demonstration, outside the site, as local voters prepare to make up their minds ahead of the referendum, in 24 days. 

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East Labour MP, Gregg McClymont said: “When you talk to people in Cumbernauld practically everyone knows someone who works there – it is the UK’s biggest tax centre, and is hugely important locally.

“But if Scotland became independent it would lose more than 90 per cent of its market immediately – which then poses a very obvious question about jobs.”

Jim Murphy MP said: “There are some complex issues surrounding the referendum – but this isn’t one of them.” he said.

“The SNP keep telling us on vital issues like this ‘don’t worry - it will be fine’, but they don’t have the answers people need.”

The timing of the running visit to the site couldn’t be more potent for the politicians, as workers at the office are currently embroiled in a long-running fight with bosses over their pay and working conditions – with a threat of privatisation of the Post Room services, at the office, which would cost 40 jobs. The trio warned staff that independence was the real threat, however.

Page 122 of ‘Scotland’s Future’ – the manifesto for how an independent Scotland might look, according to the Scottish Government – lays claim that: “…the Scottish Government proposes a transitional period during which the current functions of HMRC are continued in Scotland and the rest of the UK on a shared services basis126. Taxpayers will therefore see no immediate change to their current arrangements for paying tax on independence. However, the initial improvements to the system will be in place within the period of the first independent parliament.”

The so-called ‘guide to independence’, adds – on page 364 – “The structure of public services under independence will be for future Scottish governments and parliaments to decide. The current Scottish Government’s plans for the Parliamentary term beginning in May 2016 would be to… establish a citizen-focused personal tax system, with staff transferring from HMRC to provide the necessary skills and capacity within Revenue Scotland”.

John Miller, PCS Cumbernauld Revenue & Customs Office Secretary has since responded to the flying visit by the stalwart Labour team.

In a letter to Cumbernauld Media – which will be published in full after the publication of this article – Mr Miller says: “It is unacceptable for Gregg McClymont, Jim Murphy and Anas Sarwar to make statements which seek to distort facts and are tantamount to deceiving the public and the employees of the local tax office on job security as a result of a Yes vote in the forthcoming independence referendum.”

“They are well aware that it was their party which initiated the process of job cuts, attacks on pensions and pay and the extension of privatisation which directly affects our members in Cumbernauld,” he added.

“The continuation of the UK cuts means that 43 of our members face redundancy and an uncertain future. The planned privatisation of jobs in the Cumbernauld site alongside the 20,000 job cuts budgeted for by HMRC does not envisage a better future for our members or for the public.”

The “No Thanks” demo and photo opportunity came after a political storm for Mr McClymont, after Cumbernauld and Kilsyth SNP MSP, Jamie Hepburn criticised the Shadow Work and Pensions Minister for attacking the idea of independence rather than mentioning “Tory cuts [which] are threatening 40 local posts”.
 
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