UK passport workers walk out on strike over pay

PassportPassport workers in the UK have gone on strike in a dispute over staffing numbers and pay.

In what is described as a “bid to end staffing shortages that have caused the ongoing backlog crisis”, members of the Pubic & Commercial Services Union walked out on a 24-hour strike this morning.

There are presently 360,000 passport applications being processed by Her Majesty’s Passport Office.

In June the Home Office redeployed hundreds of staff to deal with a growing backlog of applications. However, it remains unclear how many applications are overdue.

The action came amid reports of people waiting up to two months for passports that are meant to be processed within three weeks.

The number of full-time staff at the Passport Office fell from 3,700 at the end of 2010 to 3,164 two years later, but then rose to 3,333 by the end of 2013, according to government figures.

The Public & Commercial Services Union said hundreds of jobs had been lost since 2010, while the government had only begun to “seriously” discuss the problem following recent media scrutiny.

In a statement PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We are still a long way off getting a commitment from the agency that it will work with us to put the proper resources in place to ensure these backlogs do not reoccur year after year.”

Meanwhile, the Home Office said holding a strike was “irresponsible” and would inconvenience passport applicants and “jeopardise their holidays”.

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