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Claire Jones
Job title
PCS North-West regional secretary
When management offered their staff at Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) a 3.25% pay rise they weren’t impressed. PCS members voted with their feet and took prolonged strike action to secure a much better deal for all the team.

HGS, which is based in Liverpool city centre, is an outsourced company that offers customer support for the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), in the contact centre on the phone lines and in back-office functions. 

There are around 100 staff working there, many of them on the minimum wage. But while HGS might be a small bargaining unit, they are very well organised, with PCS having around 95% union density there. 

Pay squeeze 

The roles being done by HGS are part of an outsourced contract. This contract has changed hands multiple times. Each time workers have experienced a real squeeze on their terms and conditions and have seen their pay eroded. 

When it came to the annual pay negotiations in 2022, staff were fed up and were feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis. Like many other workers who were taking strike action at that time over dwindling pay and conditions, they had had enough. 

We spoke to PCS North West regional secretary Claire Jones, who told us: “The initial offer was 3.25%. but staff who were on £9 per hour and had their pay increased on 1 April 2022 as a result of the national minimum wage increase would get nothing above the £9.75 they had been moved to. 

“It wasn’t good enough, so we balloted members and on an incredible 87.5% turnout 100% voted for strike action.” 

Solidarity Hub 

Claire explained: “The first thing we did after securing the ballot win, was to engage the TUC’s Solidarity Hub. The Hub was running a pilot in the North West, and the TUC got in touch straight away. 

“Together we set up a Megaphone petition asking people to write to the company CEO to ask for a fair pay rise. We had over 1,000 responses which is great when you think of the comparatively small size of the team here. That really helped boost our confidence, while putting pressure on the company at the same time. 


“We worked with the Solidarity Hub to pilot the “buy a picket a coffee” scheme. We thought we might get £100 or £200 in donations from it – but we got more than £1,000 – a massive morale boost! 

“We were really well supported by staff and the public on the picket line – even though it was at times freezing as the action continued into the winter months  – but this demonstrated that people from outside Liverpool cared about us and wanted to support our campaign. 

“Also, HGS is owned by the billionaire Hinduja brothers who have immense wealth, but we were being told the company had no money to offer us anything more. The TUC helped us do a bit of a dive into the accounts to bust this myth.” 


Claire told us: “Months later we were still trying to strike a deal with management, but they weren’t budging or giving us anything anywhere near what we could accept. 

“Even talks with Acas didn’t help, and 6 months into the dispute we were at the point where we needed to re-ballot our membership. 

“At this point, workers were so fed up we made it clear we would ballot for indefinite all out action – and management knew we were serious about that. So, they finally came back with an offer much more in line with what we were after.” 

A fair deal 

Claire said: “Staff got a 10.25% increase to their monthly take home pay by the end of the first year with pay backdated to April 2022. 

“It amounted to an average monthly increase of 8.8% over the two years, with staff on £9.75 getting an increase in their hourly rate to £10.54 from December 2022.” 

Claire said working with the Solidarity Hub was a great boost to the campaign. She said: “I can’t say enough how useful the TUC Solidarity Hub was. It turbo-charged our campaign. 

“Our resources were so stretched as in addition to local campaigns like this, we were also involved in national disputes. It’s a brilliant resource. We got so much help with things like social media and videos, and Paul Nowak came to visit the picket line. 

“We now feel very confident going into pay negotiations again!” 

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said the pay deal was a "great victory". He added: "When our members stand up for themselves and stick together it shows they can win the pay rise they deserve." 

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