More than a million passport applications could be stuck in a bottleneck when passport office staff go on strike for five weeks as experts warn of a “summer of discontent”.
Vacationers have been urged to check the expiration dates of their passports to avoid falling into the turmoil that last year saw families miss out on holidays due to heavy backlogs in processing.
In a “significant escalation” of the dispute over jobs, wages and terms, the Confederation for Public and Commercial Services (PCS) said more than 1,000 members would be out from all seven offices in England, Wales and Scotland from April 3 to May 5 – an estimated 65 per cent of the workforce. An eighth office in Belfast is likely to join the strike at a later date.
The union says the withdrawal will have a “significant impact” on passport delivery as summer approaches. At peak times – including April – the passport office can receive 250,000 applications per week.
union sources said The Independent that passport offices were already seeing a surge in applications after the strikes were announced, with queues outside some buildings today across England, including London.
Downing Street said ministers would work to “mitigate” the impact of Passport Office staff strikes, but said there were no plans to change guidance that people must allow 10 weeks to obtain a passport.
Government sources claimed that there is currently no backlog in passport applications and that more than 97 per cent of the passports were processed within three weeks.
But travel and tourism industry insiders say the strike will have a devastating impact on the UK economy due to the loss of sales and deals caused by the disruption.
Clive Wharton, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said: “Passport office strikes will have devastating consequences for business travel and the UK economy.
“These strikes will affect businesses across the UK resulting in lost sales and deals which will cause further damage to the industry and the economy which has so far seen a recovery.”
Mr Wratten urged the government to strike a deal with the PCS to save more than a million applications for another “summer of discontent”.
Heathrow, the UK’s largest airport, also faces the prospect of a strike at Easter. The united union said more than 3,000 security personnel, engineers and firefighters would be locked down later in the day. The union said many members are unable to make ends meet.
Wayne King, the regional coordinating officer, said any strike would “inevitably lead to severe disruption across Heathrow with delays, disruption and cancellation of flights”.
Joe Rhodes, deputy editor any? TravelHe said passport strikes would be a “major concern” for the hundreds of thousands of travelers who need to renew their travel documents.
“Anyone traveling this summer should check their passport’s expiration date carefully, as well as how many months their destination requires. If you need to renew your passport, apply as soon as possible – while current processing times are up to ten weeks.” This might go up.”
Ms Rhodes added that it was unlikely that travel insurance would cover a flight canceled due to an invalid passport.
Kevin Pratt, travel insurance expert Forbes consultantHe said that news of the new strike would make people waiting for passports “panic”.
We are heading into busy times for the travel industry, and passport applications and renewals are no exception. The strike clearly called for maximum pressure on the employers.
He said, “The strike will not completely shut down the passport offices, but it will cause delays in the process, and this may continue into the summer.”
He also warned Britons to start checking their documents if they have plans to travel abroad this year.
said Michael Riegel, general manager of the Navan Europe corporate travel and expense appThe Independent People planning summer vacations and workers traveling for work will be equally disrupted by the strike next month.
The impact would be huge on the travel industry – as well as the productivity of British business. Riegel said the number one reason for business travel is to connect teams — something that is now likely to be compromised for thousands.
The Central Statistical Office is seeking a 10 percent wage increase as well as guarantees on pensions, redundancies and job security.
General Secretary Mark Sirotka said government ministers had failed to hold “meaningful conversations” with the union and refused to support an earlier 2 per cent wage increase.
“they [the government] They seem to think that if they ignore our members, they will go too far. But how can our members ignore the cost-of-living crisis when 40,000 government employees use food banks and 45,000 of them claim benefits that they administer themselves? Sir Sirotka said.
“It is a national scandal and a disgrace to the reputation of this government as much of its workforce lives in poverty.”
The announcement comes as the government and education unions agreed to hold “extensive talks” on the issues that have sparked a series of strikes by teachers in recent months. It follows a break in the NHS dispute on Thursday, where leaders of nurses, ambulance staff and other health workers agreed to suspend further industrial action while a ballot is held on a new payment offer.
The Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman, Alistair Carmichael, said the strike would be “a blow in the teeth” for thousands of Britons.
The plain truth is that the passport office has been in shambles for years after the ministers took their eyes off the ball. Families’ holidays have been canceled and business people are stranded after endless delays,” said Mr Carmichael.
Downing Street said ministers would work to “mitigate” the impact of strikes by Passport Office staff.
“The Home Office will work diligently to manage the impact of this strike to ensure they can still provide the vital service to the British public as you would expect ahead of the summer as we fully recognize that many people will want to get away and enjoy the summer with their families,” a spokesperson said.
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