Industrial Update - Inland Revenue

INLAND REVENUE (IR) has commenced a Business Transformation update of their computer systems, which they say will involve job cuts for over 25% of IR staff by 2021.

IR industrial pic submissionIn a draft proposal, Inland Revenue are planning to make sweeping changes to over 4000 people’s jobs without providing them with any certainty as to their futures. These changes are just the first round, with the possibility of more as IR's management decides what they will need in future. IR’s changes to roles and the organisation will be implemented at the same time as significant changes are made to the second stage rollout of their computer system. Stage 1 – which was introduced this year – has encountered serious problems, and many staff have concerns about stage 2.

Futureproofing change

Say you’re employed as a customer service operator. Instead of having a speciality, the job descriptions have now been combined and titles genericised, and your job combined with a half dozen or more job descriptions of similar but distinct work. Your actual job might not change for a while, but you’re now required to upskill in areas you might have no interest in, and you could then be required to do that work by IR’s business needs.

This is great if you’re Inland Revenue, because it means you have a big pool of people who now all look the same on paper, so when it comes to the work you can move them round as you see fit, but you remove the person’s choice from the equation.

But our members at IR aren’t all the same. They have different expertise, different skills and different lives. IR have indicated that people will be potentially going through another round of change and job losses again in 2019. It’s well-documented that job insecurity has a negative effect on people and on their ability to perform well at work. In the meantime, it will affect productivity and morale, with many unsure of how IR's overall restructure will affect them.

It’s okay to think about computer systems in future-proofed and generic terms, but it’s unacceptable to consider people in the same way. Computer systems don’t suffer from stress because of uncertainty, they don’t have families, careers or futures to plan for. Inland Revenue’s decision to put people through a prolonged change processes that could last years is unfair on the people who make sure the work’s done.

Submitting on the flawed plan

Members aren’t happy about this draft proposal. The PSA has been around the country talking with workers to build a submission to IR’s draft proposal. Over 1000 members' comments are included in the PSA's submission. Over 2000 Inland Revenue staff have also filed their own submissions.

The PSA is in dispute with Inland Revenue over their interpretation of the collective agreement. We are pushing for the proposal to be withdrawn until the very serious gaps we identified in our submission have been addressed. There is no reason to rush the changes to staff, especially when there are further changes ahead.

What's most unfortunate is that at present, IR's management aren't listening to affected staff about the proposed restructure, which risks alienating those with years of experience who should be able to contribute their expertise to this process. We're still hopeful that IR will engage more fully in future, and we will be advocating for our members to be a serious and significant voice in that dialogue.