Unionized members of UK passport offices will go on strike next month over low pay, which is likely to disrupt the delivery of passports over the busy Easter holiday. This union action comes after 100,000 civil servantsincluding doctors, teachers and railway workers, walked out on Wednesday March 15.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has announced that more than 1,000 Passport Office workers will strike for five weeks starting April 3. They demanded a 10% increase in civil servants’ salaries to keep pace with inflation in a statement issued on Friday (March 17).
The home office said he was “disappointed” with the union’s decision and would work to “manage the impact of the strike” while working to ensure vital services to the public.
There are more than 4,000 passport workers, which means about one in four employees will leave. PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka confirmed that workers had rejected an initial offer of a 2% pay rise by the government.
“They had six months to resolve this dispute, but for six months they refused to improve their imposed 2% wage increase and did not address our members’ other concerns,” Serwotka said. said, confirming that a strike fund had been set up to ensure that staff would be paid in full during the extended walkout.
About a million people applied for passports in the same 5-week period last year, with summer holidays abroad increase in the number of requests during the spring. The current wait time for a new passport is 10 weeks, but this is expected to increase due to strikes.
Who is on strike in the UK?
🏥 The NHS: Ambulance crews, call handlers and nurses reached a salary increase agreement with the government after having organized biggest strike in NHS history February 6. Union members will now vote on the deal.
🩺 Junior Doctors: Represented by the British Medical Association, and not part of the NHS Union, the young doctors quit their jobs for 72 hours this week (March 13-15), demanding a 35% salary increase. More than 98% of the members voted in favor of the strike.
🚆 Railway workers: Rail service workers across the UK have staged the first of a series of four 24-hour strikes Thursday (March 16),,, causing more than half of the services to stop. Members of the National Union of Railway, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have organized numerous strikes over the past six months. Those who work for Network Rail suspended strikes as they vote on a new offer, and RMT union leader Mick Lynch said he expected a new round of talks resume next week.
🍎 Teacher: The Syndicate of National Education has organized two major strikes last month to protest against low wages in relation to high inflation. The union has agreed to suspend the strikes for the next week while they hold “intensive discussions” with the government.
🎙️ Journalists: The BBC’s regional television and radio bulletins, as well as their online content, were suspended after a 24 hour strike organized by the National Union of Journalists. The strikes were protesting planned cuts to local radio broadcasts.
🇬🇧 Officials: Civil servants – including driver’s license examiners, vehicle inspectors, border force employees, tax officials and passport office employees – jjoined the massive national strike March 15. The broad group of government employees are represented by the Public and Commercial Services Union and announced new strikes in the coming weeks.
The strongest labor movement since Thatcher
The UK has seen the highest number of strikes and industrial action since the years of Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, when industries across the country were shut down by workers protesting low pay and anti-union laws draconian.
During the miners’ strike of 1984-1985, which considered one of the greatest labor actions of the modern era, the UK economy lost 26 million working days, a common metric for measuring industrial action calculated by multiplying the total number of working days lost in a work stoppage by the number of strikers.
There are parallels between the two eras. Last year, real wages (income with inflation taken into account) fell by 3%, the biggest drop since 1977, when Thatcher became prime minister.
However, the scale of the protests is still relatively small. Unions estimated strikes caused the loss of one million working days in December last year, the worst month for walkouts last year. By comparison, 11.7 million working days were lost in September 1979, the worst month for strikes under Thatcher’s rule.
The British strikes, in figures
220,000: Number of working days lost due to strikes in January, according to a report from the UK’s Office for National Statistics published this week. The country has lost 2.67 million days to labor disputes since June last year
133,000: The number of workers who went on strike this week to protest low salaries for civil servants, according to the Public and Commercial Services Union
$2 billion: The amount of strikes cost Britain’s GDP more than eight months last year. This represents around 0.1% of the UK’s expected GDP over the same period, with the total value of the UK economy estimated at around $2.7 trillion last year.
23.1%: UK union membership rates for 2021, the most recent year on record. It is the lowest figure since 1979, when half of British citizens were in union
12.8%: Union membership in the private sector in 2021, compared to 50.1% in the public sector
3%: Lower wages in 2022, when inflation is taken into account, according to the Trades Union Congress. This is the biggest pay cut since 1977
⛏️ UK workers clash with government on budget day
🇪🇺 UK and EU reach agreement on Northern Ireland