27/05/2010

LRC Step In Over Passport Dispute

The Labour Relations Commission has stepped into the dispute at the Passport Office where industrial action has led to a backlog of over 61,000 applications.

Representatives of the Civil and Public Service Union and the Department of Foreign Affairs have now been called to the Labour Relations Commission after the row escalated. Workers were told to stop giving priority to the applications of those with immediate travel needs, leading to serious difficulties for potential travellers.

The CPSU has since reversed its direction ahead of the discussions, where it is hoped agreement can be reached.

A union spokeswoman said that after the Croke Park deal, the CPSU withdrew its industrial action and it was agreed with management at the Department of Foreign Affairs that priority would be given to those with immediate travel needs.

The spokeswoman said Passport Office management had withdrawn this priority two weeks ago without any notice to the union.

She described it as "completely unnecessary" and said the union was at a loss as to why it had occurred.

The row, between the CPSU and the Department of Foreign Affairs, has led to a huge backlog in passport applications.

Staff have been working overtime in an effort to clear the backlog, but the Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has called for the CPSU to cooperate with the recruitment of temporary staff and suggested that additional passport offices could be opened to help deal with the backlog.

(DW/BMcc)

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