A union boss has responded to damning allegations of ‘toxic working conditions’ at Durham passport office.

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union has called for civil servants to be ‘properly treated’ after reports of shocking working conditions at HMPO Durham.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka told The Northern Echo: “What’s happening in Durham is a familiar story across the civil service. Our reps are busy dealing with issues of mismanagement, bullying and poor working conditions.

“These issues are exacerbated by the threat of job losses hanging over members, with no regard to members of staff or the people who use the essential services they provide.

“We want to see more civil servants, not less. And we want them to be properly trained, properly paid and properly treated.”

Read more: Durham passport office: MP warns of 'toxic work culture'

On Tuesday (June 14) Mary Kelly Foy, MP for City of Durham, told the House of Commons of ‘toxic working cultures’, ‘bullying tactics’ and a staff member who ‘contemplated suicide’ at the Durham passport office amid a backlog of applications.

She was speaking during a debate about passport applications called by Labour.

She told fellow MPs: “Staff morale is understandably at an all-time low. Covid outbreaks have led to staff shortages, yet staff are under pressure to return to office working, including bullying tactics from senior officials and poor communication from management.

“Disturbingly, staff have told me they’re too afraid to speak out about their working conditions for fear of disciplinary action.

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“Staff are subject to verbal abuse from the public and have shockingly witnessed an attempt to self-harm by an applicant desperate to receive their passport.

“Tragically, one member of staff’s mental well-being has been impacted so severely that that they told me they had contemplated suicide.”

One whistle-blower condemned management as “firefighting all the time, with no visible strategy for tackling problems”

The Northern Echo has contacted the Home Office for comment.