The UK Border Agency (UKBA), the UK government’s border control authority and a part of the Home Office, has reported industrial action by staff, which may lead to further delays at immigration counters before the Olympic games commence.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union, which are employed by the Home Office, have announced a strike on July 26, 2012, due to a long-running disagreement over issues that include job cuts, reimbursement and privatisation.
The industrial action will affect London Heathrow Airport in particular, as the airport is the entry point for around 90 percent of international visitors flying into the city for the 2012 Olympic Games. Around 105,000 passengers are expected to arrive at the airport on July 23, 2012, while July 26, 2012, a day before the commencement of the Olympics Games, is the day that most arrivals are expected.
In a statement, BAA Ltd, owner and operator of six British airports including Heathrow, said, ‘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.’
PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said, ‘The lives of staff have been made intolerable by these cuts and they’re at breaking point.
Ministers have known about these issues for a very long time and need to act now to sort out the chaos they have caused.
They’re acting recklessly in cutting so many jobs and privatising services, and are provocatively refusing to talk to us with a genuine desire to reach an agreement.’