Passport officers begin their five-week strike today, as Britain braces for disruption to the summer holiday. More than a quarter of the Passport Office’s 4,000 employees are expected to leave. The strikes will continue until May 5 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in a dispute over jobs, wages and working conditions.
Passport Bureau guidelines currently recommend allowing 10 weeks for a passport renewal.
A spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior commented on the planned strikes: “We are disappointed with the union’s decision to strike after constructive talks to find a solution.
“We are working to manage the impact of strike action while ensuring we can continue to provide vital services to the public, with comprehensive contingency plans.”
While the Passport Office has no plans to update its guidelines as a result of the strike, hundreds of thousands of people waited more than 10 weeks for their passports last year.
This was a result of a surge in demand as Covid travel restrictions came to an end.
There will be picket lines outside offices in Glasgow, Durham, Liverpool, Southport, Peterborough, London, Belfast and Newport in Wales.
Those who walk out will be supported by a strike fund, the union said.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka has written to the government calling for urgent talks to resolve the dispute.
Prior to the strikes, there was a “temporary” increase in demand for passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed.
But it said the amount was “close to” estimated levels.
The Interior Ministry said that while demand increased, “passport application numbers remain close to forecast volumes”.
It added: “There are currently no plans to change our guidelines which state it takes up to 10 weeks to get a passport.”