Page last updated at 17:54 GMT, Thursday, 12 February 2009

Sticky faces bin scheme rubbished

Smiley face
Workers must attach "smiley" faces when targets are met, the union says

A union has described a scheme to make civil servants use "glum" and "smiley" faces to code their rubbish bins as "demoralising".

Swansea's Revenue and Customs Office (HMRC) staff use "glum" sticky faces when the wrong rubbish is thrown and "smiley" ones when targets are met.

A union said the scheme, being tested after external consultants were hired, was also "demeaning" for workers.

HMRC said it was a practical measure and staff have been fully involved.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCSU) also claimed workers had to predict the exact time they would arrive in the office, have a lunch break, and leave for home to allow for "accurate targeting of work".

It said a growing number of meetings were also being held, including some on how to sort out the "problem" of establishing when workers were at lunch.

Local staff and managers have been fully involved from the outset, and many of the ideas have been developed by the staff themselves
HMRC spokesman

PCSU leader Mark Serwotka said: "This is yet another crazy example of a scheme dreamt up by consultants earning huge amounts of taxpayer's money - at least 1,000 a day.

"Not only is it demeaning and demoralising for skilled staff, but comes at a time when Revenue and Customs are ploughing ahead in closing offices and cutting jobs.

"These aren't primary school children working in this tax office, but experienced staff who collect the taxes that pay for our schools, hospitals and other public services.

"To add insult to injury they also face the possibility of some of their tax collection work being privatised."

'Practical measures'

Mr Serwotka added: "The department needs to intervene and drop this scheme and ditch its plans to cut jobs and close offices."

An HMRC spokesman said: "The idea is to use practical measures to limit time spent in meetings, improve focus on key targets, better recycling and planning of staff movements on a day-to-day basis.

"Local staff and managers have been fully involved from the outset, and many of the ideas have been developed by the staff themselves.

"These are already delivering improved results and there is a great deal of enthusiasm for both the progress that has been made and the new ways of working."



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