The civil service’s biggest union will ramp up strikes over pay and conditions with a five-week walkout at the Passport Office.
More than 1,000 civil servants in HM Passport Office will go on strike from the beginning of next month, PCS has announced. This follows three months of walkouts, including an all-out strike on Spring Budget day on Wednesday.
PCS members working in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport will walk out from 3 April to 5 May over concerns about pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job security.
The Passport Office says it employs more than 4,000 staff, which could mean around a quarter of its workforce will be out of action for five weeks. HMPO staff previously walked out during the union's one-day strikes on 1 February and 15 March.
PCS warned that the action – which it described as a “significant escalation” of the dispute over pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job cuts – will likely have a significant impact on the delivery of passports as the summer approaches.
Mark Serwotka, PCS’s general secretary, said the escalation is in response to ministers failing to hold any meaningful talks with civil service unions “despite two massive strikes and sustained, targeted action" which began in December.
He said this was in “sharp contrast” to other parts of the public sector, with NHS unions agreeing a deal last night and teacher unions being offered “substantive" talks in exchange for strikes being halted.
Civil servants in the Passport Office in Northern Ireland are also being balloted in a vote ending today, and could join next month’s action if they vote in favour.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the union’s decision to strike after engaging in constructive talks to find a resolution.
“We are working to manage the impact of strike action, whilst ensuring we can continue to deliver vital services to the public, with comprehensive contingency plans in place.
The Passport Office currently has no plans to change its guidance to allow up to ten weeks to get a passport, CSW understands.