Passport office workers to strike for five weeks

A total of 360,000 people had to wait longer than 10 weeks to receive their passports last year…reports Asian Lite News

Most of Britain’s passport office workers will go on strike for five weeks starting next month in a pay dispute, potentially disrupting the delivery of passports ahead of the summer holiday period.

More than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union working across most of the UK’s passport offices including in London, Liverpool and Glasgow will walk out from April 3 to May 5, the union said in a statement on Friday.

They join workers in other sectors in Britain who have staged strikes in recent months demanding higher pay to cover surging inflation.

Passport officers in Belfast, Northern Ireland could also strike if they vote in favour of walking out in a ballot that closes on Friday.

“This escalation of our action has come about because, in sharp contrast with other parts of the public sector, ministers have failed to hold any meaningful talks with us, despite two massive strikes and sustained, targeted action lasting six months,” PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said.

The PCS union has demanded a 10% pay rise for civil servants as UK inflation is now running at just over 10%. Passport officers had previously rejected a 2% pay rise.

The government’s passport offices are the sole issuer of UK passports, issuing over 5 million of them each year, meaning any strike by officers working there will likely cause significant disruption to services.

Britain is seeing the worst wave of labour unrest since the 1980s, with strikes affecting almost every aspect of daily life from healthcare and transport to schools and border checks, as workers demand pay rises that better reflect the worst inflation in four decades.

Passport Office staff have come under increasing pressure following a “record number of applications” in 2022 after COVID restrictions were lifted in the UK and abroad, the Home Office said.

A total of 360,000 people had to wait longer than 10 weeks to receive their passports last year.

And a report by the government’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, warned the Passport Office should “prepare for similar levels of demand” in 2023, with up to 10 million applications expected.

Around 100,000 other civil servants, who work in government departments, staged a strike on Wednesday alongside thousands of other employees including railway workers, doctors and teachers.

The latest action from passport office workers comes after months of strikes over pay disputes in other sectors, such as rail workers, London Underground drivers, teachers, NHS staff, regional BBC journalists, university lecturers and civil servants.

On Thursday, unions representing healthcare workers in England agreed a final pay offer with the government – which if accepted by members at a vote would bring walkouts from nurses, ambulance crews, paramedics, hospital porters and other health workers to an end.

A statement released by the government and healthcare unions said both sides believed the offer represented a “fair and reasonable settlement”.

The agreement does not apply to junior doctors as they are involved in a separate dispute with the government.

ALSO READ-Doctors begin three-day strike in pay dispute


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