Over 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) working in Passport Offices across England, Scotland, and Wales are set to take part in a five-week-long strike action. The industrial action will take place in seven Passport Offices located in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough, and Southport, from April 3 to May 5. Members of the Passport Office in Northern Ireland are also being balloted and may join the action, pending the ballot result, which is set to close on March 17.
The strike action is a significant escalation of the union’s ongoing dispute over pay, pensions, redundancy terms, and job security. The strike is expected to have a substantial impact on the delivery of passports, especially with the summer approaching.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said the escalation of the action was due to the government’s failure to hold meaningful talks with the union. He added that ministers had ignored the union’s concerns despite two massive strikes and six months of sustained, targeted action.
Serwotka said the government’s approach showed that it was treating its workforce worse than anyone else in the public sector. He further stated that the government had six months to resolve the dispute but had refused to improve the imposed 2% pay rise and address other issues of concern raised by union members.
Serwotka highlighted the cost-of-living crisis, which he said was affecting civil servants and leading to 40,000 of them using food banks, while 45,000 were claiming benefits that they administer. He called it a national scandal and a stain on the government’s reputation that so many of its workforce were living in poverty.