Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 19:01 UK

Passport staff join strike action

passport
The passport office will be hit by the strike action

Passport office staff in Northern Ireland have become the latest public sector workers to vote for strike action over pay.

The move means services at the passport office in Belfast will be disrupted on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week.

Coastguard staff began a two-day strike Friday evening.

The strikes are being staged over the government's policy of capping public sector pay below the rate of inflation.

A two-day strike by council workers closed leisure centres and libraries and stopped rubbish collections earlier this week.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The security of UK border controls will be maintained.

"Contingency staffing plans are in place to ensure the public receive business as usual service."

It is believed a limited number of appointments will be available at the passport office, and that there will be a reduction in the number of passports issued.

Involved

The action by Coastguard staff began at 1900 BST on Friday.

The Public and Commercial Services union said up to 700 employees at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency across the UK were involved.

They are complaining that pay rates are behind other emergency services. It is the second walk out in three months.

The MCA has said it will continue to provide an emergency service to all beach, cliff and sea users.

The agency's chief executive, Peter Cardy, said they were committed to "maintaining the safety of life at sea".

"Plans are in place to provide cover, but I'm encouraging everybody working or playing on the sea or on the beach this weekend to take that bit of extra care, and to follow our safety advice," he said.





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