DBS back-office staff threaten ‘indefinite’ industrial action

PCS chief says billionaire employer can “easily” end pay dispute – plus, more HMCTS strikes announced
Disclosure and Barring Service. Photo: Adobe Stock

By Tevye Markson

29 Nov 2022

Back-office Disclosure and Barring Service workers have threatened “indefinite” industrial action until their employer, Hinduja Global Solutions, meets their demands for better pay and working conditions.

The 82 staff employed by HGS  run the DBS’s customer service line and some administrative functions – all members of civil service union PCS – have already taken four weeks of strike action this year. HGS staff do not process DBS checks.

PCS today announced a further two weeks of DBS strikes from December 12 until Christmas, as well as an indefinite overtime ban from Boxing Day, after talks with arbitration and conciliation service ACAS broke down earlier this month.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Although our members are angry and frustrated at the lack of movement from management, it’s still within the gift of the multi billionaire owner of HGS, Srichand Parmanand Hinduja, to end this dispute.

“His staff – the same people who have helped him accumulate an estimated personal wealth of more than £28.4bn – are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

“He could easily afford to raise their pay to at least the Living Wage Foundation [wage] of £10.90 per hour, as well as paying them sick pay and paid breaks.”

Earlier this year, HGS’ 3.25% pay increase offer was rejected by 100% of PCS members who took part in a ballot. Meanwhile, inflation has risen to 11.1% this year, while an energy crisis has caused household bills to soar.

As well as a bigger pay increase, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, the union is also demanding job security and 27 days’ annual leave for its members.

Previous strikes have forced the DBS contact centre to reduce its weekday hours and even shut its doors entirely. HGS staff do not process DBS checks

Meanwhile, the union has also announced further HM Courts and Tribunals Service strike action over the Common Platform dispute.

Common Platform allows parties including the judiciary, solicitors and barristers, the Crown Prosecution Service and court staff to access case information.

But PCS says there has been an “alarming increase" in reports of stress, anxiety, long working and muscoskeletal health issues since the system’s introduction.

The industrial action will take place from 9-12 December and is in addition to strikes on 2-5 December, which were announced last week.

PCS said this followed a meeting with HMCTS where no further substantial concessions were offered. The union said it has now asked to “present directly to the HMCTS Board to make the wider case on Common Platform”.

The 9, 11 and 12 December strikes will be for legal advisers and courts associates in the Midlands and North East, while the action on 10 December will be for all legal advisers and court associates in courts which have already been balloted.

A HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokesperson said: “Common Platform is fundamental to modernising the court system – replacing out-of-date systems and freeing up court staff so we can better deliver justice for all.

“We will continue to work closely with all staff to support them through the transition. We want to thank all the court staff, judges and others who have contributed to its design and implementation so far.”

DBS was approached for comment but had not responded at the time the story was published.

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