Simon Calder issues travel warning for Britons

Simon Calder speaks about potential passport issues around striking

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Simon issued the warning as the PCS union announced a five week strike at passport offices across the UK. Members of the union are expected to walk out from April 3 to May 5.

Simon told the BBC: “April is normally a peak month for applications. During the five weeks of this strike from April 3 to May 5, you can expect perhaps a million passport applications.

“As we saw last year when we had all those queues, even when things are working well it’s not necessarily a smooth process.

“What really worries me is that people will decide ‘oh I’d better apply now’ even though my passport doesn’t expire until the end of the year.

“The worst thing that could happen is even the announcement of the strike could trigger a surge in applications which itself causes a passport.”

The travel expert urged Britons with more time on their passport to “hold back” and avoid causing a “queue for people who really need it”.

He added: “The Home Office tells me that they are putting contingencies in place and that 10 week rule still applies.

“They will say ‘don’t book any travel arrangements until you’ve got your passport in your hand’.”

However, many Britons book their holiday before checking if their passport is within its expiry date.

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If British tourists do end up missing their holiday due to passport delays, they might not be entitled to compensation.

Simon warned: “If you apply and it takes longer than 10 weeks and you can demonstrate there was nothing wrong with your application, it was a foul up at the passport office then you might be able to get some compensation.

“But your travel insurance isn’t going to be interested and compensation is payable in a very few and limited number of circumstances.”

The expert said the situation could get “very messy”. Anyone whose passport is due to expire in the next couple of months should apply online.

The PCS union, which represents the striking workers, has warned there will be a “significant impact” on the delivery of passports due to the strike.

Members are asking for a 10 percent pay rise, job security, changes to their pensions and protected redundancy terms.

The Government has said the demands are unaffordable and would cost £2.4billion to put in place.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This escalation of our action has come about because, in sharp contrast with other parts of the public sector, ministers have failed to hold any meaningful talks with us, despite two massive strikes and sustained, targeted action lasting six months.

“Their approach is further evidence they’re treating their own workforce worse than anyone else.

“It’s a national scandal and a stain on this Government’s reputation that so many of its own workforce are living in poverty.”

Staff at offices in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newport, Peterborough and Southport will walk out from April 3 to May 5.

Staff in Belfast will strike from April 7 to May 5. The strikes follow Wednesday’s day of civil service industrial action.

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