Passport Office workers are to begin a five-week strike from today (April 3) in a dispute over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions.

More than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) at eight sites will walk out as the long-running row escalates.

The action will take place from April 3 to May 5 in England, Scotland and Wales, however, those in Belfast will strike from April 7 to May 5.

Picket lines will be mounted outside offices in Glasgow, Durham, Liverpool, Southport, Peterborough, London, Belfast and Newport in Wales today.

A strike fund will support the Passport Office staff who are taking action, the union said.

In a bid to resolve the dispute, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka has written to the Government calling for urgent talks.

He has accused ministers of treating its own employees differently to others in the public sector after negotiations were held with unions representing health workers and teachers.

Strikes are being stepped up by the union with a nationwide walkout of more than 130,000 civil servants planned for April 28.

The Home Office said the Passport Office has already processed more than 2.7 million applications this year, adding over 99.7% of standard applications are being processed within 10 weeks with the majority of those delivered to customers well under this timescale.

Holidaymakers have been warned to allow 10 weeks for new passports if they’re travelling abroad this summer.

No plans are currently in place to change the official guidance that states it can take up to 10 weeks to get a passport.