Heathrow’s border staff set to walk out on strike
THE MAMMOTH queues at Heathrow passport control could get even longer next week, when UK Border Force staff walk out on strike.
The government confirmed last night that more than 4,000 members of the Immigration Services Union are joining public sector workers in a national strike over pensions on Thursday 10 May, leaving Britain’s airports and borders short-staffed.
ISU deputy general secretary Lucy Moreton said the union has hundreds of members at Heathrow “so it will have a significant impact” at Europe’s busiest airport.
“We don’t want to cause disruption, but if the Cabinet Office continues to ignore our concerns over pensions then that is what we are going to do,” she added.
Another union, the PCS, has already said its 9,000 Border Force workers across the country will walk out next Thursday.
Immigration minister Damien Green said “tried and tested contingency plans” will be used to try and minimise disruption, and slammed the strike as “completely unnecessary”.
Earlier this week Green promised to draft in 80 extra staff to man the immigration desks at Heathrow after a week of two-hour waits for some passengers, which he blamed on the wet weather but the Labour party linked to staffing cuts.
Boris Johnson this week wrote to home secretary Theresa May to warn that the delays are creating “a terrible impression of the UK” ahead of the Olympic Games.
“Our border controls are an international embarrassment, putting British jobs and economic growth at risk – and this strike will make that worse,” added Institute of Directors head Simon Walker.
The ongoing problems are not isolated to Heathrow – a spokesperson for Eurotunnel said its passengers was also experiencing delays at border checks, adding that the Channel Tunnel “is already seeing an increase in business on the back of the Olympics”.
The 10 May strike action could encompass hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, including staff at the Ministry of Defence, the NHS, local authorities and the civil service.