Borders Staff Planning Strike Day Before Olympics Begin
Thousands of Home Office workers in London, including Border Agency staff, "are to go ahead with strike action" on the day before the Olympics, according to Jenny Booth of the LONDON TIMES. The striking workers will follow the July 26 strike action with "other forms of industrial action," such as an overtime ban until Aug. 20, in their "dispute over jobs, pay and other issues." The action will hit border controls at ports and airports including Heathrow, "threatening disruption to people travelling to London for the Games." The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said that 57% of its members "had backed the campaign of action" (LONDON TIMES, 7/19). In London, Groom, Jacobs & Warrell reported that Home Secretary Theresa May condemned the strike as "shameful" and said that the government "would put contingency plans in place to help people come through the border as smoothly as possible." Three previous PCS strikes over the past 14 months have caused "little disruption to passengers at Heathrow," but this comes on what is expected to be "the busiest day in the airport’s history" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/19).
AND THE TRAINS: Also in London, David Millward reported that Border Force staff who are members of the rival Immigration Service Union "will work normally." However, England is also facing a stoppage by train drivers working for East Midlands Trains. Union General Secretary Mark Serwotka "defended the stoppage," which will also include workers at the Identity and Passport Service and Criminal Records Bureau. Serwotka said, "The lives of staff have been made intolerable by these cuts and they're at breaking point." Meanwhile, train drivers will take industrial action on Aug. 6-8, coinciding with the finals of a number of athletics events. The 400 drivers, who are staging a walkout in a dispute over pensions, "were condemned" by Transport Secretary Justine Greening (TELEGRAPH, 7/19). In London, Topham & Watt reported that U.K. PM David Cameron "condemned" the planned strike. The PM said that he hoped the strike "would not go ahead" but insisted the Olympics "would be safe and secure regardless." Speaking at a press conference in Afghanistan on Thursday, Cameron said, "I do not believe it will be right. I do not believe it will be justified" (GUARDIAN, 7/19).