UK Border Agency Employees Call off Strike

A planned strike to be held tomorrow, July 26, 2012, by employees of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), the UK government’s border control agency and a part of the Home Office, has been called off.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union, which are employed by the Home Office, had earlier announced a strike on July 26, 2012, over a long-running disagreement with the government on issues that included job cuts, reimbursement and privatisation.

The industrial action was likely to affect London Heathrow Airport, especially with the airport being the entry point for around 90 percent of the international visitors flying into the city for the 2012 Olympic Games.

In an important development in the talks between the disputing groups, the UK Home Office has agreed to offer 800 new permanent jobs at the borders, including those at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and other airports and ports in the UK, following which the industrial action has been called off.

PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said, ‘These new jobs are a welcome step towards a recognition that the Home Office has been cracking under the strain of massive job losses, and that the answer is not more cuts but more investment.

We are pleased that with these new posts and the progress made in talks we are able to avert a strike ahead of the Olympics. But we first raised our concerns 18 months ago, so it is deeply regrettable that ministers allowed this dispute to escalate.

I would like to place on record my admiration for our members in the Home Office and elsewhere who have been subjected to a disgraceful and unprecedented level of vitriol from ministers and sections of the media in recent days.

These staff work tirelessly to serve the public and only want to improve the very important services they provide, not see them go to ruin before their eyes because of government cuts.’