Workers delivering webchat and telephone service via outsourced deal vote for six-day walkout
Customer service and administrative contractors at the Disclosure and Barring Service have confirmed plans for a six-day strike over pay and conditions.
Eighty members of PCS, the civil service’s biggest union, will start their industrial action on 15 August. They are employed in Liverpool to deliver a contract that was outsourced to India-headquartered Hinduja Global Solutions, and covers the provision of webchat, telephone helpline and come back-office functions for DBS.
The strike follows a vote that saw 100% of participants reject Hinduja’s 3.25% pay offer.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the outsourced DBS staff believed the current offer was not acceptable at a time when inflation is running above 10%.
“Like most other workers, our members are struggling with the Conservative cost-of-living crisis, which is why they have voted overwhelmingly to reject the offer and take strike action, and why PCS stands fully behind them,” he said.
Serwotka added that many of the union’s members were earning barely more than the minimum wage.
The union is due to hold a national strike ballot for departmental staff over the government’s proposed 2%-3% rises for civil servants. PCS is seeking 10% and a 2% cut in pension contributions, among other demands.
Its ballot will run from 26 September to 7 November – kicking off during the Labour Party conference, a week before the Conservative Party’s gathering in Birmingham.
Yesterday the Bank of England revised its inflation estimate, saying it now expected price growth as measured by the Consumer Prices Index to hit 13.1% before the end of the year.
A DBS spokesperson said HGS had informed the organisation its employees would be striking between August 15 and 20 and that services for customers would be impacted.
“This will affect their call centre which provides telephone, webchat and some administrative and back-office functions on behalf of DBS,” the spokesperson said. “Our priority is our customers – people who are applying for DBS checks, employers and individuals enquiring about barring decisions. We are working hard with HGS to ensure that, in line with their contract, their call centre continues to provide a service and we can minimise any disruption. Those contingency plans are currently being finalised and we will make sure that customers are made aware of any changes as soon as possible.”