Christmas boost for Peterborough passport office workers

The passport office ENGEMN00120120706134438

The passport office ENGEMN00120120706134438

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Workers at Peterborough’s passport office have been given an early Christmas boost after temporary jobs were made permanent.

The Public and Commercial Services union is claiming success as the remaining temporary staff brought in to plug gaps left by job cuts in the Peterborough passport office are being made permanent.

Since 2014 more than 1,000 extra posts have been created across the country in an effort to avoid a repeat of that summer’s crisis that saw backlogs of applications reach 500,000.

Many of these workers were on fixed term appointments for two years, but the remaining 250 are now being given permanent contracts, including 44 in Peterborough.

From 2010 to 2013 the government axed almost 700 jobs from what was then called the Identify and Passport Service, bringing staffing down to 3,100. It is now up to 4,200.

After the union continued to push for all posts to be permanent, the Passport Office has announced staff at admin and executive officer grades – also in Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool and Newport – are in line to be offered a contract.

When in 2014 the union raised concerns about understaffing ministers and senior officials denied there was a problem.

But public anger mounted after the media published photographs showing hundreds of boxes of unprocessed application forms stacked up in a meeting room.

This pressure, including industrial action, exposed the crisis and led to questions in the House of Commons and a home affairs select committee inquiry.

As a result, the Passport Office recruited the extra workers and was brought under the direct control of the Home Office.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The passports crisis was a textbook example of the stupidity and short-sightedness of public spending cuts, with the problems they caused being obvious for all to see.

“Through our continued pressure and a willingness to take action the government had no choice but to finally accept it had cut too many staff.”