Members of Britain’s Border Force have announced that they will abandon their posts at airports in strikes over the Christmas holidays, the PCS union announced this week.
In an attempt to blackmail the government into raising their wages, the PCS Union, which represents the Border Force, including around three-quarters of passport control staff at airports, said that it will be going on an eight-day strike over Christmas — although their operations collecting boat migrants in the English Channel and brining them to Britain will seemingly be unaffected.
The PCS union boss, Mark Serwotka, warned that the strikes would “escalate” unless the government “put money on the table now”. Some 86 per cent of PCS union members voted to go on strike across 124 government departments, the BBC reported.
He said that the strikes were “part of a targeted and sustained programme of industrial action that is designed to escalate each week unless the government is prepared to put money on the table now to deal with the poverty of its own workforce,” he added.
The Border Force strikes come amid increasing labour union activity, with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Highways Agency already announcing that they will be going on strike this month. Many more civil servants, such as driving test examiners, are also set to strike over demands for more pay.
It is expected that around 1,000 Border Force agents will strike from the 23rd of December to Boxing Day and from the 28th of December to New Year’s Eve.
Major airports including Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, and Manchester will likely see passport checks impacted during the typically busy travel season. It is believed that approximately one-third of flights could be cancelled during over Christmas due to the strikes.
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Commenting on the potential strike, Home Secretary Suella Braverman advised Britons to avoid travelling during the holidays in order to lessen the strain on the system.
“If they go ahead with those strikes there will be undeniable, serious disruption caused to many thousands of people who have holiday plans. I really want to urge people who have got plans to travel abroad to think carefully about their plans because they may well be impacted.”
The Home Secretary said that the government is planning on deploying the military to cover for the Border Force staff at airports, but they will be stretched thin as they are already committed to covering for striking nurses and firemen.
“We have plans in place that will involve, to a degree, bringing in some of our military colleagues to help us in a variety of roles. Ultimately, I’m not willing to compromise on security at the border, that’s the number one priority,” Braverman said.
“That may well have an adverse impact on convenience for people, frankly, whether it’s the time they have to wait for flights, or departures; they may well be delayed on arrivals and various travel plans. Ultimately, security at the border is my number one non-negotiable priority.”
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