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All aboard for the passport office strike

by Matthew Cookson

The fight to defend hundreds of jobs at the passport office in Newport, South Wales, and interview offices around Britain is intensifying this week.

Around 3,000 PCS union members in the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) began a ballot for strikes against management plans to sack 500 people.

The two week timespan of the ballot means action could take place in the near future.

This would involve offices in London, Glasgow, Peterborough, Belfast, Liverpool, Durham, Newport, Southport (GRO) and all smaller interview offices.

Since the sacking announcement last month, PCS members have been fighting back.

A massive campaign has been launched involving union members, local people and political leaders in Newport.

Seven hundred people marched in Newport on 16 October and over 17,000 signatures have been collected on a petition.

PCS has been involved in a consultation exercise with management but do not believe that they or the government are serious about negotiations.

Transparent

Paul McGoay, the PCS IPS group president, said, “This attack on the Newport Passport Office represents a taste of what is to a come across the public sector.

“We do not believe that IPS management are being transparent with us.

“They are simply trying to be ‘top of the class’ when it comes to announcing cuts and attacks on public sector

workers. But there is no rationale for these cuts.

“Neither management nor the government have the guts to admit what they doing.

“They are running a slash and burn exercise that will decimate the lives of those who lose their jobs and lead to the destruction of communities.

“The government is trying to make working class people pay for the crisis. This attack on the Newport passport office and our members in the interview office network is proof of that.

“These cuts will fall on some of the poorest areas of the country, which are crying out for investment, not cuts.

“PCS is pledged to fight and we call on all members to vote yes to strikes.”

Paul fears that other offices will be next in line for

government attacks.

“We have seen management documents that show that they have looked at closing other offices, such as Durham and Peterborough,” he said.

“All members need to unite in the campaign to save the Newport office.

“Only the solidarity across the group, taking action together, can make a difference.”


The PCS and Prison Officers Association unions are to ballot their members over a serious assault from the government.

The Tories want to reduce the redundancy payments to civil service workers in preparation for mass sackings.

PCS members struck for three days against New Labour’s proposals earlier this year.

The PCS’s ballot runs from 7 December to 14 January.

Members will also be asked to back the union’s strategy to resist the Tories’ attacks on redundancy, pensions and other issues at a series of meetings across Britain.

Many are arguing that the union should coordinate a strike ballot in defence of pensions—and other issues—with members of the teachers’ NUT union early next year.


The ballot by PCS union members for strikes at seven Jobcentre Plus offices that bosses want to turn into contact centres was to end on Friday of this week.

This change will make working conditions and the service to the public worse.

The offices affected are in Bristol, Manchester Chorlton, Makerfield, Newport, Norwich, Sheffield and Glasgow Springburn.


Workers at Department for Work and Pensions offices in East Ham, Canning Town and Dalston in east London have voted for strikes over staffing.


PCS members in the Driving Standards Agency are continuing their work to rule over pay issues.

The union’s members in the Department for Transport have voted overwhelmingly for action in an indicative ballot over office closures.


Article information

News
Tue 23 Nov 2010, 18:26 GMT
Issue No. 2229
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