1,000 more Passport Office staff to strike for 'reasonable' pay offer

PCS follows through on warning to escalate industrial action following 4.5% pay award announcement
Passport Office strike in Peterborough. Photo: Paul Marriott/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

20 Apr 2023

A thousand extra Passport Office staff will join strikes next month, with PCS union escalating its action to include members in all offices of the agency following last week’s 4.5% pay offer to civil servants.

Around 2,000 passport examiners in Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport have been taking strike action since 3 April that will continue until 6 May.

From 2 May, they will be joined by around 1,000 workers in non-examination roles such as admin, anti- fraud, policy and commercial staff in the same offices, as well as interview officers in Birmingham, Corby, Hemel Hempstead, Leeds, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Plymouth.

“At every stage of this dispute we have warned we will escalate action if our demands are not met," PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said.

Last Friday, the Cabinet Office announced a pay rise of 4.5% for civil servants in 2023-24, plus 0.5% for those on the lowest pay bands. The proposed deal included no one-off cost-of-living payments or extra pay for 2022-23.

Serwotka said the “insulting pay announcement” was the latest example of civil servants being “treated as the poor relations of public services”, echoing comments from the FDA yesterday, which announced it would launch a strike ballot.

“Despite being the government’s own workforce, we were offered no backdated pay deal, no lump sum and no chance to negotiate,” he said.

“Our members are not prepared to be treated this way which is why we are escalating our action.

“Ministers can stop these strikes and ease the passport backlog tomorrow by making a reasonable offer to our members.”

PCS has held dozens of walkouts since December – including two national days of action across its membership – as part of its long-running dispute over pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job security.

The union has also announced strikes at jobcentres in Glasgow and Liverpool to take place early next month.

PCS will stage a third day of national action on 28 April that it said will involve more than 130,000 civil and public servants.

A government spokesperson said: "The government's pay remit guidance recognises the hard work and vital importance of civil service staff by offering the highest pay increase in 20 years, in line with forecast wage growth across the economy. The deal is also fair to the taxpayer and supports the government’s promise to halve inflation this year, which will help everyone’s incomes go further.

"Industrial action should always be a last resort and dialogue with unions will continue. We urge them to recognise what is reasonable and affordable, as the whole country faces these cost of living challenges."

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