UK Immigration Staff - Strike Imminent
03 August 2009
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It is expected that a two day strike amongst immigration and customs staff will begin on Wednesday 5 August. Unless agreement is reached before Wednesday, this is likely to cause delays for holidaymakers and immigrants wishing to gain entry to the UK.
Alex Flynn of the PCS Union said that 78% of immigration and customs staff had voted to walk out over plans to merge the duties of immigration and customs staff. This means changes to the working practices and shift patterns for immigration and customs staff. The PCS says that this will also mean that immigration staff will have to do Customs Officers duties that they are not trained for. For example doing strip searches. The Union also says that proposed changes to shift patterns will result in reduced take home pay.
The UK Border Agency said it was "very disappointed that one union branch has taken this action". They also said that they had plans in place to minimise disruption.
"Obviously we want to avoid inconveniencing the public," Mr Flynn added.
"But our members want to continue doing the jobs they signed up for.
"Management were trying to introduce changes so that you would have immigration officers doing jobs for which they were not trained."
Jonathan Sedgwick, deputy chief executive of the UK Border Agency said they had made "concerted efforts" to reach an agreement.
"It is revealing that only around 25% of the union's staff voted to strike," he said.
"However, we have taken all necessary steps to ensure the border remains secure and the public protected.
"While we are committed to keep talking to avert any action, we are confident that if it does take place it will have very little effect on the operation of our business."
It is interesting to note that Unions representing 14,000 cabin crew at British Airways have said that there may be strikes over plans for job cuts and a wage freeze.