Passport Office workers strike: Five-week walkout begins today over pay and pension dispute
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Passport Office workers will go on strike for five weeks starting today (April 3) until May 5 following a dispute with the government over jobs, pay, pensions and working conditions. This will see more than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) walk out at eight different locations across the country.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka has written to the government calling for urgent talks in a bid to resolve the dispute, accusing ministers of treating its own employees differently to others in the public service such as health workers and teachers that led to improved pay offers.
There will be picket lines outside offices in Glasgow, Durham, Liverpool, Southport, Peterborough, London, Belfast and Newport in Wales. The union said those walking out will be supported by a strike fund. The PCS is also stepping up strikes, with a nationwide walkout of more than 130,000 civil servants.
The walkout is set to hamper the passport application process, which has seen a “temporary increase” in demand in the run-up to summer but the Home Office said there were currently no plans to change its 10-week guidance for passports to be processed and sent out.
The Home Office said it was "disappointed" by the strike action, and added it was "working to manage" the disruption, and continue the service through "comprehensive contingency plans".
More than 4,000 people are employed by the Passport Office across the UK, which means that according to union figures around one in four workers will take action. The union has said walkouts are being targeted to cause mass disruption and involve members working in departments which examine passports - more than 1,300 people.
Passport workers’ demands
Serwotka has previously said the strike action was over the government refusing to increase a proposed 2% pay rise and added ministers had "failed to hold any meaningful talks". Inflation, which is the rate at which consumer prices rise, was 10.4% in the year to February.
The union said a strike fund worth millions, funded by a levy from PCS members, has been built up to pay staff in full during the course of the five-week walkout. The government has urged the union to "recognise what is reasonable and affordable, as the whole country faces these cost of living challenges".