Thousands of Home Office staff including airport immigration workers to strike on eve of Olympics

 

Thousands of staff at the Home Office, including airport immigration workers, are to stage a 24-hour strike the day before the opening of the Olympics in a row over jobs, pay and other issues.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said its members will walk out on July 26, and will take other forms of industrial action, such as a ban on overtime, from July 27 to August 20.

The action will hit border controls at ports and airports including Heathrow, threatening disruption to people travelling to London for the Games.

The union warned it will announce further action if ministers continue to "refuse" to negotiate an agreement, warning that job and spending cuts are hitting services to the public.

The strike will involve staff across the Home Office, including the UK Border Agency, the Identity and Passport Service and Criminal Records Bureau.

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."

Home Secretary Theresa May branded the PCS strike decision "shameful".

"I think that is shameful, frankly," she said in a round of broadcast interviews.

"They are holding a strike on what is one of the key days for people coming in for the Olympic Games.

"We will of course put contingency arrangements in place to ensure we can deal with people coming through the border as smoothly as possible."

Earlier, Labour leader Ed Miliband spoke out against disrupting the Olympics, saying: "People should not be striking during the Olympics. People should not be disrupting the Olympic Games."

Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the strike, insisting the Olympics would be safe and secure regardless of any industrial action.

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, he said: "I do not believe it will be right, I do not believe it will be justified."

Union officials said a work-to-rule and overtime ban could have a big impact on border controls and in passport offices because of the amount of overtime worked.

The PCS is in dispute with the Home Office on several issues, including plans to cut 8,500 jobs, the threat of compulsory redundancies in the passport office in Newport, South Wales, pay rises capped at 1% following a two-year wage freeze, privatisation of services, and alleged victimisation of union reps.

Mr Serwotka said the issues which have caused the dispute were flaring in other Government departments, which could also lead to industrial action.

The union said cuts in the Border Agency was causing "chaos" and leading to long queues at airports such as Heathrow.

PCS members at the Department for Transport, including driving test examiners and Coastguards, have been taking industrial action over the past few weeks, while staff in other Government departments including the Ministries of Defence and Justice, are set to vote in the coming weeks on how to campaign against cuts.

Around 16,000 PCS members in the Home Office took part in a ballot, with a 57% vote for strikes and 75% majority for other forms of action, on a turnout of 20%.

Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of business group London First said: "Calling a strike on the demand of 12% of members is ridiculous. This action shows a cynical contempt for the public by a minority of PCS members.

"At a time when everyone wants the UK to look good and show the world what it is capable of, the PCS is behaving like a sulky child who isn't getting his own way."

John Cridland, director general of the CBI, said: "As the world arrives in London for the Olympic Games, every one of us should be giving our guests the warmest possible welcome. For PCS to go on strike on this key day beggars belief. For it to happen because of a vote by 11% of staff is simply outrageous."

Labour MP John McDonnell, who chairs the PCS Parliamentary Group, said: "The Government has brought this dispute on its own head. The UKBA and passport staff have been raising their concerns over job cuts and the impact on services for over 12 months now.

"The PCS Parliamentary Group only met the minister three weeks ago to warn him of the low morale caused by the Government's actions and the urgent need to stop compulsory redundancies."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'