Over 160 staff working for IT outsourcing firm Steria on contract with the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) are to go on strike at the end of July in a dispute over pay.
Staff at Steria were balloted on action by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), after bosses imposed a pay freeze on those earning over £21,000. Some 86 per cent voted in favour of strike action from a turnout of 62 per cent.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said that the freeze in wage increases is unacceptable as Steria generated profits of €50m in 2010 and its senior executives earn around €2.5m between them.
"These private sector staff provide an invaluable public service for UK citizens applying for or renewing their passports," he said.
"Yet instead of rewarding its workforce with a decent pay rise, the company is imposing what is nothing more than a pay cut at the same time as pocketing millions in profits."
Steria workers provide several services to the IPS, including checking and scanning applications for passports, and the strike action has been scheduled for the busiest time of the year for the IPS. Further action is threatened in August.
Steria said in a statement that it is still in discussions with the PCS, and is confident that it can avert any threatened strike action.
"Steria has an ongoing and constructive dialogue with PCS, and together Steria and PCS will resolve any staffing issues for the IPS," the company said.
It has been relatively quiet on the strike front for the UK IT sector this year. The only major industrial action in recent months was threatened by Fujitsu staff, who voted to strike in June over the unfair treatment of a union activist.
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