Proposed Passport Office strikes ‘will not impact 10-week application guidance’

Abta says it understands proposed strike action by Passport Office workers will not change current guidance that applications will take up to 10 weeks to process.

A statement was issued by the association following the announcement that more than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) could join walkouts described by the Business Travel Association as “devastating for business travel and the UK economy”.

If it goes ahead, the strike will involve those working in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport over a five-week period between April 3 and May 5.

Members in the Passport Office in Northern Ireland are  being balloted and “may well” join the action subject to the ballot result which closes today (Friday).

An Abta spokesperson said: “As with any strike, it is still possible this industrial action won’t go ahead, but if it does we have been advised by His Majesty’s Passport Office that they are making preparations to ensure they continue to meet the needs of their customers during this time.”

The association added that it understood the advice to allow up to 10 weeks for applications to be processed still stood and applicants should continue to allow “plenty of time”.

Business Travel Association chief executive Clive Wratten called on the government and PCS to come to an agreement to “avoid another summer of discontent”.

He added: “The Passport Office strikes will have devastating consequences for business travel and the UK economy. These strikes will impact businesses across the UK resulting in loss of sales and deals which will cause further damage to the industry and economy which has so far observed a bounce back.”

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of The Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “It’s disappointing that holidaymakers are going to face further disruption due to Passport office staff across the UK striking for five weeks over April and May. These strikes will only add to the delays people have already been facing and will impact the delivery of passports as summer approaches.

“Last year 360,000 people had to wait longer than 10 weeks to receive their passports. Long waits for passports will inevitably put people off travelling at a time when the outbound travel industry is recovering from the hangover of the pandemic.”

She added: “Our advice to travellers, should they need passports or to renew existing ones, is to action these as soon as possible to minimise any disruption to their travel plans. We urge the government and the unions to find a way of dealing with this dispute urgently to ensure that it doesn’t affect British travellers and impact the outbound travel industry.”

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