by Tim Lezard MPs on the home affairs select committee have backed the PCS’s demand for proper staffing in the Passport Office. The recent crisis was caused by understaffing, the union maintains, and a new report by the committee highlights the excessi …

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, PCS,

passportsby Tim Lezard

MPs on the home affairs select committee have backed the PCS’s demand for proper staffing in the Passport Office.

The recent crisis was caused by understaffing, the union maintains, and a new report by the committee highlights the excessive overtime being worked this year.

The union also welcomes the committee’s call for the agency to be brought back into the Home Office if this properly addressed the serious shortfalls in staff numbers, delivered equal pay with other Home Office staff and ensured further work would not be privatised or outsourced. The union would not accept simply rebranding the agency.

The key issues raised in the report are:

– Calls for the agency to be brought back into the Home Office, a move the union supports provided it means proper resources for staff to deliver a quality service; pay harmonisation; and protection from work from being outsourced

– Confirms the union’s view that contingency measures put in place were “too little, too late”, calls for the Passport Office to have “the right number and mix of staff” and notes more was spent on overtime between January and May 2014 than during the whole of 2013

– Urges the Home Office not to try to deal with backlogs by redeploying staff from other areas and offices, risking causing crises elsewhere a few months later. The union has long said all parts of the Home Office require more staff

– Calls on the union and Passport Office management to negotiate “a sustainable solution” to adequate staffing. This is something the union has repeatedly pushed for from the outset but has been blocked by the agency’s refusal to properly negotiate

– The committee chairman’s assessment that there has been a “complete management failure at the highest levels of the organisation” is damning, and the union welcomes the committee’s praise for how staff have worked through the crisis

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We welcome the committee’s call for the agency to be brought back into the Home Office if this would mean adequate staffing to provide a quality service under public control.

“Instead of continuing with short term measures favoured by the Passport Office, we remain ready to negotiate a long term solution to staffing to ensure the crisis we saw this summer is not repeated in future.”

 


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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