Passport Office staff in Scotland ‘relying on food banks’ as strike starts

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Passport Office staff in Scotland are “relying on food banks”, a union representative has said as workers begin a five-week strike in a row over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions.

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.

Workers are picketing outside eight Passport Office sites across the UK, including in Glasgow.

He said: “We’ve been offered 2% but most people will only ever see 1% of that. We’ve had two pay increases this year for our PO1 grade but that’s because it would fall under minimum wage, that’s just how dire it is at the Passport Office at the moment.

“We’ve got members of staff who are relying on benefits and food banks, members of staff who are spending their wages on their housing costs. We cannot do anything other than take this action.”

He added: “We’ve been hearing the toots of the vehicles as they’ve been going past all morning as well and we’ve got the RMT with us and we’ve got solidarity with us so there seems to be quite a lot of support with us at the moment.”

Industrial strike
Pickets are being held at offices across the country (Jane Barlow/PA)

Questioned how members will survive the five-week strike, Mr Bain said members had paid into the levy so the union has funds available to support staff.

He said he is aware it will have a “massive impact on members of the public” but that the impact on members of staff is “bigger”.

Picket lines are also being mounted outside offices in Durham, Liverpool, Southport, Peterborough, London, Belfast and Newport in Wales.

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, and added that over 99.7% of standard applications are being processed within 10 weeks, with the majority of those delivered to customers well under this timescale.

There are currently no plans to change official guidance which states that it takes up to 10 weeks to get a passport.

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