STAFFING cuts which have driven the Passport Office into the ground sparked a walkout by workers yesterday amid summer holiday chaos.
Tory Home Secretary Theresa May drafted in scabs to fill in for PCS members who walked out in protest at the hundreds of jobs cut since 2010, which have caused 30,000 passport applications to pile up.
The savaged workforce had to handle a whopping 775,000 applications in June this ear — thought to be the most ever submitted in a single month.
Civil servants’ union 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 re-occur year after year.”
PCS has also called for an end to pay inequalities at the service.
A Home Office spokeswoman said yesterday that the strike was “irresponsible” and brazenly claimed that it would “jeopardise customers’ holidays” — even though the Con-Dems’ deep cuts had already put the service in a precarious position.
Speaking from his picket line in Liverpool, PCS branch secretary Richard Harrison told the Morning Star: “The backlog has been created by the government and the employer in giving more work to fewer people.
“They say that they couldn’t possibly have predicted this ‘unprecedented demand,’ but they’ve imported overseas passport work into the UK, and you just can’t run this sort of operation on a shoestring. They wanted staff to work overtime — but people get tired.
“We’re now campaigning to have a properly-resourced Passport Office once again, and we’ve been amazed at the amount of public support we’ve got while out on strike.”