More than a quarter of the UK's Passport Office workers are set to go on strike for nearly all of April in protest over low pay, the BBC reports.
The walkout, which was called by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, is expected to severely disrupt UK passport application and delivery procedures. It follows numerous other strikes in key sectors of the UK economy in recent months, including in healthcare, education, and transport.
Workers in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport will strike from 3 April to 5 May; those based in Belfast will do the same from 7 April to 5 May. More than 1,300 of the Passport Office's 4,000 workers are expected to participate.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka claimed that the strike was called after UK Ministers "failed to hold any meaningful talks with us" over pay. The UK Government had previously offered workers a 2% pay rise: less than five times the country's current inflation rate (10.1%).
Serwotka added: "They've had six months to resolve this dispute but have refused to improve their 2% imposed pay rise and failed to address our members' other issues of concern... It's a national scandal and a stain on this government's reputation that so many of its own workforce is living in poverty."
A Home Office spokesperson added that the UK Government was "disappointed with the union's decision", but that it will "work to manage the impact of strike action". The PCS's decision was also condemned by UK business associations.
"The Passport Office strikes will have devastating consequences for business travel and the UK economy," Chief Executive of the Business Travel Association Clive Wratten told The Independent. "These strikes will impact businesses across the UK resulting in loss of sales and deals which will cause further damage to the industry and economy which has so far observed a bounce back."