Border Agency staff plan strike
Air passengers face potential big delays at immigration following the announcement of industrial action by staff the day before the Olympics start.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union employed by the Home Office will strike on Thursday July 26 in a long-running dispute over job cuts, pay and privatisation.
The action will most affect Heathrow Airport, the main entry point for Olympic competitors and spectators. A Heathrow spokeswoman said it was still awaiting formal notification of action this afternoon, as the union is required to give seven days’ notice of its intentions.
Heathrow handles an average 190,000 passengers a day, but was expected to receive around 224,000 today. This figure will fall slightly as athletes arrive for the Games, but July 26 is still expected to be exceptionally busy.
Unless the action is postponed, extra staff will have to be drafted in to work in arrivals halls to cover for absent UK Border Agency employees. The PCS claims the government is cutting too many staff – 8,500 - in order to save money and that this is affecting the remaining employees. They are also angry about a 1% pay offer and a two-year wage freeze.
The PCS said that if ministers refuse to negotiate an agreement, it would announce further action at a later date. UK Border Agency staff who are PCS members will also instigate an overtime ban from July 27 to August 20.
In a statement, BAA added: “We want all our passengers to have a smooth, secure and enjoyable experience at Heathrow, and so far the Olympic roster introduced by the Home Office is having the desired effect, with immigration waiting times well within their targets. We hope this will continue through the strike action.”
Travellers also face the potential of strikes by East Midlands Trains' staff during the Games on August 6,7 and 8.