Travel disruption looms as UK immigration officials threaten strike

28th Jul 2009

UK immigration officials are threatening a two-day strike over working conditions, adding to the potential misery for holidaymakers this summer amid fears of a walk-out by British Airways ground staff.

Some 4,100 immigration officials who check passports at the air and sea ports in the UK are threatening to strike over working conditions and shift patterns.

The dispute has arisen following the merger of customs and immigration controls into one UK Border Agency. New proposals would see them undertaking many of the traditional jobs of customs staff including body searches.

The Public and Commercial Services Union is expecting the results of a ballot of its 1,300 members next week.

A spokesman for the union said it seemed likely that members would vote in favour of a strike.


“We wouldn’t have called a ballot if weren’t confident of winning it,” PCSU spokesman Alex Flynn told The Telegraph. “We are in talks with the management and there is a possibility of strike action.”

“The response shows that 75 percent are in favour of action and that percentage is increasing,” he said.

“That shows the depth of feeling about the plans to change the way we work. The feeling out there is so strong I believe a strike is looking almost certain.”
A second union, the Immigration Service Union, with 3,000 members is also considering strike action.

If both unions did strike simultaneously, it would be the first time since 1981 that the country was without proper immigration controls.

A spokesman for the Home Office insisted it had contingency plans in place.

“We are still confident that any strike would have little effect on the work of the UK Border Agency and border controls,” she said.

She also stressed that a strike was by no means inevitable: “We are still talking with the trade unions and nothing is definite yet.”


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