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Passport Office staff to hold five weeks of strikes in row over pay and working conditions

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More than 1,000 Passport Office staff will strike for five weeks in a row over pay and working conditions.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will strike at passport offices in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newport, Peterborough, and Southport from April 3 to May 5.

Those in Belfast will go on strike from April 7 to May 5.

Read More: Teachers, junior doctors and Tube staff hold strikes on Budget day

The union called the strike a "significant escalation" in the long-running dispute.

Officials warned the walkout would have a "significant impact" on passport delivery as summer approaches.

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Members want a 10 percent pay increase, job security, changes to their pensions, and protected redundancy terms.

But the government says the demands from civil servants would cost £2.4 billion and are exorbitant.

Read More: More NHS strikes as thousands of junior doctors walkout over pay

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "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.

"Their approach is further evidence they're treating their own workforce worse than anyone else.

"They've had six months to resolve this dispute but for six months have refused to improve their 2% imposed pay rise, and failed to address our members' other issues of concern.

Read More: RMT union suspends Network Rail strikes later this month after new pay offer

"They seem to think if they ignore our members, they'll go away. But how can our members ignore the cost-of-living crisis when 40,000 civil servants are using foodbanks and 45,000 of them are claiming the benefits they administer themselves?

"It's a national scandal and a stain on this government's reputation that so many of its own workforce are living in poverty."

The Passport Office has been under massive pressure due to a "record number of applications" in 2022 after COVID restrictions were lifted in the UK and abroad, according to the Home Office.

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Last year, 360,000 people had to wait more than 10 weeks for their passports.

In addition, the National Audit Office, the government's spending watchdog, warned the Passport Office to "prepare for similar levels of demand" in 2023, with up to 10 million applications expected.

On February 1, Passport Office employees joined approximately 100,000 civil servants represented by the PCS in a strike affecting 124 government departments.

On Wednesday, approximately 133,000 civil servants walked out on the largest day of strikes since the current wave began last year.

Source:   Sky News

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