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Passport Office staff strike over cuts and pay disparity

Passport Office staff are on a 24-hour strike today in protest at job cuts that have caused deep backlogs. 

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) called the strike, which ends at midnight, but the Home Office said it could threaten people’s holidays.

The number of full-time equivalent Passport Office staff stood at 3,333 at the end of 2013, a fall from 3,700 at the end of 2010 but a small rise on 2012.

The Home Office says around 170,000 passports are processed per week, but has recently had to redeploy hundreds of staff to deal with the backlogs. Some applications have been taking months, rather than the three weeks promised.

The PCS says the government is “still failing to commit to work with the union to agree a long-term solution to understaffing, instead of the sticking plasters they are currently applying”.

The union’s 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.”

Privatisation threats and pay grades also form part of the union’s dispute with the government.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We strongly urge PCS to reconsider this action, which is not in the interests of staff or the general public they are dedicated to serving.”

“HM Passport Office staff know how important it is to hard-working people and their families to receive their passports in time for their summer holidays. They have shown this through their hard work and commitment during this exceptional period of high demand.”

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