Passport staff to strike on Monday

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Thousand of Passport Office workers will be on strike on Monday in a dispute over staffing shortages at the government agency.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) says hundreds of office jobs have been cut since 2010, causing a backlog in the processing of passports and many people have had their holiday plans thrown into chaos.

Bosses only agreed to meet the union to discuss staffing levels after pressure from the House of Commons home affairs select committee, the PCS claims.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The staffing crisis in the Passport Office has been obvious for everyone to see and it shouldn’t have taken a committee of MPs to force the chief executive to meet us to discuss it.

“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.”

A Home Office spokesman said contingey plans would be in place during the strike.

He said: “Holding a strike at this stage is irresponsible and will only inconvenience our customers and jeopardise their holidays.

“All HM Passport Office Customer Service Centre counters will remain open and we will be able to issue passports for those in emergency situations with urgent travel needs.”