Warning over worsening strike situation
Warning over worsening strike situation

A backlog of more than 40,000 passport applications has arisen as a result of industrial action by public sector workers in the 26 Counties, which this week is set to be joined by the Garda police.

A giant queue is extending outside the Molesworth Street Passport Office in Dublin as people wait to try and obtain passports.

Staff at passport offices have been engaged in industrial action including public office closures and bans on answering phones as part of a campaign of industrial action across the public service over pay cuts.

The action has led to the passport office suspending its guarantee of providing a passport within 10 working days and the department spokesman said it was now taking “between 18 to 20 working days” to secure a passport.

They will also not answer phones this afternoon as part of a phone ban to be put in place by the Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU) across the Civil Service.

Sinn Fein Dail Leader Caoimhghin O Caolain TD has advised those who are planning to travel abroad on summer holidays to ensure now that their passports are in order.

The Cavan-Monaghan Deputy said, “The Fianna Fail-Green Party Government’s intransigence in refusing to reverse the cuts to low-paid public sector wages means that the industrial action is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

“I have already been contacted by constituents who have had to cancel travel plans because their passports were not ready in time. However, staff in the Passport Office are currently refusing to deal with elected representatives, regardless of their politics and where they stand on the issues involved. With the summer holidays approaching there are likely to be many more people affected.

Deputy O Caolain concluded by reminding travellers that some countries require passports to be valid for at least six months after the intended date of departure and that this should be taken into account when considering whether a passport needs to be renewed.

Meanwhile, some 11,000 Gardai are expected to begin a ‘work-to-rule’ this week in the first action of its kind in the history of the force.

The so-called ‘withdrawal of goodwill’ is in protest over public sector pay cuts and the pension levy.

The Garda Representative Association has said its members will refuse to use their own mobile phones, laptops and cameras in the course of their professional duties.

The move is seen as highly controversial because gardai take an oath of loyalty to the 26-County State and are banned from striking.

Gardai are also banned from joining a trade union. Under the Garda Siochana Act 2005 it is a criminal offence for a member of the force to withdraw their labour or to induce anybody to withdraw their labour.

On conviction the offence carries a penalty of up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to 50,000 euro.

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