Up to 3,000 members of the PCS civil service workers’ union at the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) struck for three days from Wednesday to Friday of last week over a restructuring that threatens over 100 job cuts, and over other issues.
The strike had a major impact, hitting the production of tens of thousands of passports at the major passport processing centres in London, Peterborough, Newport, Liverpool, Durham, Glasgow and Belfast.
But members of the public supported the action as it aims to defend the service, union officials reported.
Government “efficiency plans” will mean downsizing postal passport applications to two or three central processing sites.
According to pickets, resources are being directed from passport processing to the introduction of the government’s draconian ID card scheme.
In Glasgow, where the job cuts are threatened, Jim Edwards, PCS IPS Scotland branch secretary, said they would have a devastating impact.
He said, “In Glasgow there’s a lot of long service people in the office.
“There are 19 families with two or more members of staff within IPS Glasgow office. The cuts will have a serious effect on their future.”
Pay was also a major issue for strikers. One office worker at a lively picket in Newport explained, “I haven’t had a pay rise – I’ve had a pay cut for the last five years. Management has imposed a three-year pay deal and now they’re telling me I haven’t got a job to go to anyway. I think it’s shit.”
PCS branch secretary Anne Louise said, “A lot of people in the office have money worries, and management has told them they’re breaking their contract if they don’t come to work – but our jobs are under threat and the management won’t talk to the PCS.
“If we’re not prepared to fight, we won’t have a job to go to.”
Vince Maple, the PCS IPS group assistant secretary, said, “The strike’s been a tremendous success. New people have joined the union on all three days.
“Members have given up three days of pay to defend the service they are proud to deliver.
“The union now wants to get back round the table to reach an agreed settlement on the future of the IPS.”
Paul McGoay, the PCS IPS group president, told Socialist Worker, “I stood on three picket lines – in Glasgow, Durham and Peterborough – and you could see that members’ support for the strike was very good. There was also a lot of good media coverage for the strike.
“The union wants to come to a sensible accommodation with management, but we will continue to take action until we do, including a work to rule that began on Monday of this week.”