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Issue Date:- 23 July 2008

Passport staff in three day strike

THE three day stoppage, hitting the UK’s seven regional passport offices and 68 interview offices, will lead to the cancellation of passport interviews and delay the issuing of passports during one of the busiest periods of the year.

Passport staff are furious over the pay offer which leads to the longest serving passport staff receiving no pay rise at all for the fifth year in a row.

The pay offer worth only 2.5%, comes at the same time as nearly £50 million has been spent on consultants. Starting salaries in the IPS are as low as £13,109.

Staff are also angry over the prospect of office closures which could see the UK’s seven passport offices reduced three.

Plans have already been drawn up to close the Glasgow passport office which could see over 100 jobs go. The union fears that resources are being diverted from passport processing to the controversial introduction of ID cards.

The strike is the latest in a week of action which saw driving examiners, coastguards, Land Registry, Valuation Office Agency, Home Office and immigration staff take action last week over the government’s policy of below inflation pay in the public sector.

Last week also saw members of Unison and Unite working in local government strike for two days over below inflation pay.

The seven regional passport offices affected by the strike are:- London, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Peterborough, Newport and Durham

Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said:- “The closure of the Glasgow passport office and the threat to a further unnamed three is fuelling the anger over the government’s policy of below inflation pay.

It is disgraceful that long serving passport staff should receive no pay rise for the fifth year in a row and that efficient hardworking staff should be rewarded with a pay cut in real terms.

With food, fuel and housing cost soaring, the government’s policy of below inflation pay has further incensed a workforce uncertain about their future but passionate about the service they provide.

Cuts, below inflation pay and the introduction of a new performance management system have all undermined morale.

With a quarter of the civil service earning less than £16,500, the government need to recognise the impact its policies of below inflation pay and cuts are having on hardworking families.”

Email us at us your views on this issue and let us know what you think about the strike action.


Less than 1000 places left for November 2008 Southport Weekender

THIS week, UpNorth Promotions, who run the world famous Southport Weekender have been in contact with us and told us that they are looking at yet another big sell out...  The event is always popular, attracting live Sole, Jazz and R'n'B acts from all over the world...  As well as their fans...  A spokesman for the event said that:- "Once again we're amazed by the fantastic response to November's Weekender and its heading towards another certain sell out with just over 900 places left. So please don't be too long in getting your deposits down. The only chalets we have left are 6 berths and a limited number of 4 berths which will be the next to sell out.  If you've booked earlier intending to add to your party, as we know a number of you do, then again don't leave it too long to get the additions to us or they may miss out."  If any of our readers are interested in going, book now...  You can book online print off a booking form or simply call the office on 0870 990 1987.   We can safely say it will be yet another amazing event from the line up we have been given so far!

Celebrating stroke support service

THE Stroke Association’s Communication Support Service in Southport and Formby will be celebrating the launch of the 'Lost Without Words Campaign' on Tuesday, 29 July 2008, with a Liverpool ‘Capital of Culture’ theme. Members of the charity’s service, along with volunteers and guests will be invited to dress in Liverpool-related attire. The menu will include, of course, Scouse and Jam Butties.

The Stroke Association’s campaign report, Lost without Words looks at the devastating effects of aphasia for stroke survivors. These can include loss of confidence and independence and can lead to depression.

Aphasia is one of the most common disabilities following a stroke, affecting a person’s ability to speak and understand language. The charity estimates that at least one third of stroke survivors are currently living with aphasia: literally ‘living in a silence’ – frightened, frustrated and isolated, unable to speak or understand language.

Julie Ainscow, Regional Communications Officer for The Stroke Association explains:- "We all need to communicate. Whether it’s through speaking, a hand gesture or the blink of an eye, the ability to interact with others is crucial. The loss of these basic skills can leave stroke survivors and their carers feeling imprisoned and depressed."

According to new figures from the charity, a staggering nine out of ten (88 percent) of stroke survivors in England are left unsupported and isolated in the community. Stroke survivors in Southport and Formby, however, are among the lucky ones, as The Stroke Association’s Communication Support Service provides the essential support for stroke survivors with aphasia.

Importantly, the study also found that stroke survivors who received this type of long term communication support via a group setting reported a better recovery and huge personal achievements. It concluded that these groups enable stroke survivors to develop new strategies to replace lost communication skills, continue to improve and maintain these skills and facilitated social interaction preventing depression and isolation. The groups also provided respite for carers.

"Service-users in Southport and Formby are right to celebrate this service. With this type of support, the stroke survivors here are able to have a good quality of life and play an active role in society. The benefits are not only cost-saving to our healthcare system – they are a basic human right for every individual and should be available to all stroke survivors with aphasia."
Julie added.

If you would like further information about stroke or The Stroke Association, please contact the Stroke Information Service on 0845 303 3100, or visit the their website.

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