Disclosure and Barring Service customers can expect further disruption to services next month when contract workers at its Liverpool contact centre strike again over pay.
A total of 96 staff are employed by international outsourcing giant Hinduja Global Solutions to run the contact centre for DBS and provides some back-office functions.
All but two staff are members of the PCS, the civil service’s biggest union. Earlier this year a ballot saw HGS’ 3.25% pay offer rejected by 100% of PCS members who took part.
Six days of strike action in support of an improved pay offer last week saw services disrupted – with the DBS contact centre forced to reduce its weekday hours and shut entirely on Saturday. PCS has now confirmed that a next wave of walkouts will take place from September 5 to 10.
In addition to an improved offer from HGS, the union is seeking better working conditions, a commitment to paying at least the Living Wage Foundation UK rate of £9.90 an hour, sick pay, and an annual leave entitlement of 27 days.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said a 3.25% pay offer from a company owned by one of the richest people in the country – Srichand Parmanand Hinduja – at a time when inflation is 10.1% and rising was not acceptable.
“Our members are rightly angry at being told to accept a below-inflation offer while the Hinduja family live in luxury in one of the most expensive houses in the country, just round the corner from Buckingham Palace,” he said.
“They’re struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, so we call on the Hinduja family to do the right thing and pay them at least the living wage.”
Last week PCS members at the Ministry of Defence rejected a pay deal worth 12.85% over three years. The union said the offer would involve an “unacceptable loss of terms and conditions”.
PCS will open a national ballot at the end of next month seeking civil servants’ backing for strike action in support of a 10% pay rise for 2022-23, and other demands.
A DBS spokesperson said the next wave of industrial action at the centre would affect telephone, email and webchat services and a “small number” of administrative functions.
“As part of our contract with HGS, they are required to put in place contingency arrangements to minimise the inconvenience to our customers as much as possible,” they said.
“The contact centre’s opening hours will reflect that of the previous period of industrial action.
“From Monday 5 September to Friday 9 September it will be open from 9am to 5pm, and it will be closed on Saturday 10 September.
“Additional staff will be in place to support customers, with a webchat service also still available.”
The contact centre’s normal hours are 8am to 6pm on weekdays and from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays.