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UK passport workers begin five-week strike in row over pay and conditions

Photo by Yui Mok/PA

Passport Office workers in the UK have begun a five-week strike in a dispute over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions as a union warned it could cause delays for those looking to renew their passports.

More than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) at eight sites are walking out in an escalation of the long-running row.

Picket lines were mounted on Monday outside offices in Glasgow, Durham, Liverpool, Southport, Peterborough, London, Belfast and Newport in Wales.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said he expects to see “huge delays” for those trying to renew passports ahead of their summer holidays.

The strike could impact on people in Gibraltar, whose British passports are issued in the UK.

However the UK Home Office has said there are currently no plans to change official guidance which states that it takes up to 10 weeks to get a passport.

Mr Serwotka told Sky News: “In my opinion there will be huge delays in the already 10 weeks that people are supposed to apply for passports, and there will be huge disruption on the fast-track service that people can use when they want to get a passport quicker.”

“The Government says it has got contingency measures in place so we’ll see how that works out over the next few days and weeks, but I would expect there to be delays.”

The union is stepping up strikes, with a nationwide walkout of more than 130,000 civil servants planned for April 28.

The Home Office said the Passport Office has already processed more than 2.7 million applications this year, adding that more than 99.7% of standard applications are being processed within 10 weeks, with the majority of those delivered to customers well under this timescale.

A spokesperson said: “We are working to manage the impact of this strike action, whilst ensuring we continue to deliver vital services to the public through our comprehensive contingency plans.”

“There are currently no plans to change our guidance which states that customers should allow up to 10 weeks to get a passport.”

Chronicle staff contributed reporting for this article.

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