Passport offices need 70 extra staff

A REVIEW of the country’s passport offices by the Labour Relations Commission has concluded that 20 clerical officers need to be hired as well as 50 temporary officers if the passport service is to properly meet public demand.

Passport offices need 70 extra staff

The review was put in place following industrial action at the offices last March over the public service pay cuts imposed by the Government.

In a report following a two-month investigation into how the Cork city, Dublin city and Co Dublin offices worked, LRC chief Kieran Mulvey also stated there was a “fundamental level of misinformation” amongst the public around the depth of work undertaken to process passports.

During the industrial action last year, there was much public anger at the unions’ stance which saw the workers refuse to answer phone calls or deal with the public at particular times of the day. A backlog of 61,000 passports had to be cleared by the time the work-to-rule finished.

Mr Mulvey said that 20 more clerical officers were necessary in offices across the country and two more staff officers in Cork and Dublin. He also said the temporary staff should be hired in January so they are trained and ready for peak season which is now beginning as early as March.

He said that due to public sector budgetary constraints and government demands to reduce staff numbers, the extra staff required at the passport offices could be redeployed from elsewhere in the public or civil service.

The Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU) has long argued that the passport office sector is understaffed and over reliant on temporary staff. However, management have said they cannot take on more permanent staff and that temporary staff increases will meet demand over the summer.

Last night CPSU general secretary Blair Horan said his union welcomed the report and they had “always held the view that additional permanent staff was needed to meet the high service demands from the public”.

“The report refers to the ‘complex nature attached to processing, checking, printing and the time it takes to the eventual production and dispatch of an Irish passport’... yet as it says ‘the public perception is that the Irish passport… must be capable of being printed on the spot’,” he said.

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