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Posted on 23 May 2011 at 17:14 GMT

Newport Passport Office - campaign saves 150 jobs but fight goes on

On May 23 Tory immigration minister Damian Green announced the closure of Newport Passport Office as a processing centre but in a big concession to the massive campaign led by the PCS union in Newport retained 150 of the 300 threatened jobs.

The job losses were hardly a surprise to workers at the Passport Office - 36 boxes of redundancy leaflets were discovered in the foyer of the Passport Office two weeks ago! It was clear that the Tories had made their mind up about the office closure months ago.

Nevertheless the huge campaign with overwhelming support from the people of Newport has forced the government to make concessions. 150 jobs have been retained at Newport, 50 will work in a customer service centre, while 100 will run a central Identity and Passport Service (IPS) customer complaints and correspondence base.

It will share telephone customer enquiries handling with the Durham office, while a counter-fraud team will operate in Newport. The PCS is determined to keep up the fight to defend ALL jobs.

Workers are pleased with this partial success but sceptical at the government's promises. It is still unclear where the promised jobs will come from and there have been no guarantees that workers who keep their job will retain their existing contracts.

And at least 150 jobs will still be lost across the rest of the IPS. A 'Yes' vote in the PCS ballot for strike action over cuts to pensions, jobs and pay later this month would give a green light to a strike across the IPS against the cuts to Newport Passport Office and the rest of the service.

Dave Reid

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