Families warned of 'significant' delays as passport workers go on strike for FIVE WEEKS

Last modified on Friday 17 March 2023

'Significant' delays for new and renewal passports are expected ahead of the summer holidays, with families urged to check all their passports now

Families could face huge delays getting new and renewal passports due to passport office staff go on strike for 5 WEEKS.

More than 1,000 passport office workers will strike from 3 April to 5 May over a dispute over jobs, pay and working conditions, its been announced.

The strike will include members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, whose members work in England, Scotland and Wales.

'Likely to have a significant impact on delivery of passports'

The union has warned of 'significant' delays to applications and the delivery of passports in the run-up to the summer holidays – which could affect families' travel plans.

The PCS said: 'The action is a significant escalation of the union’s long-running dispute over pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job security and is likely to have a significant impact on the delivery of passports as the summer approaches.

But the Home Office has said the strike has not altered its guidance, which is to allow up to 10 weeks to get a passport, and says it has made preparations to meet demand.

'More than 1,000 staff to strike'

Passport Office workers in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport will strike from 3 April to 5 May.

Meanwhile, union workers from Belfast will strike from 7 April to 5 May.

The PCS Union Tweeted earlier today (Friday 17 March): 'More than 1,000 PCS members working in the Passport Offices in England, Scotland and Wales are to take 5 weeks’ strike action.'

Why are passport office workers striking?

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 6 months.

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

'It's a national scandal'

'They’ve had 6 months to resolve this dispute but for 6 months have refused to improve their 2% imposed pay rise, and failed to address our members’ other issues of concern.'

The general secretary then explained that many of the union workers were struggling financially and had to turn to food banks in order to survive.

He added: '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 food banks and 45,000 of them are claiming the benefits they administer themselves?

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

How long will the strike go on for?

The strike is set to last for 5 weeks, from 3 April until 5 May, covering the Easter period and early summer – but it's thought it could cause a backlog that'll last into the summer holidays.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: 'We know customers may be concerned about the news of @HM_ Passport strike action next month.

'Our guidance has not changed and you should still allow up to 10 weeks to get a passport. Plans will be in place so we can continue to deliver this vital service.'

What else do I need to know?

A new rule came in last year meaning that families now have to make sure their passports are in date AND valid for travel post-Brexit .

That's because rules for passports have changed – meaning that in some areas, you'll need to make sure your passport is valid for an extra 3 months after you've left your country of travel.

Since Brexit, there are strict new passport rules in place which means you’ll need to check the date your password was issued and when it’s due to expire.

If you want to travel in the EU or something called the Schengen Area (which includes popular holiday destinations like Spain, Portugal and Greece), the EU’s Your Europe website says that your passport must:

  • Be valid for three months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting.
  • Have been issued in the previous 10 years

Not only that but the cost of applying for passports increased in February .

Announcing the proposals in January, the Home Office said that this was the first time in 5 years fees for applying for a passport have risen, the Home Office said.

The Government website explains: 'The new fees will help the Home Office move towards a system that meets its costs through those who use it, reducing reliance on funding from general taxation.'

And, as we reported here, applying for a passport in person, rather than online, could actually cost you more .

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