Heathrow Immigration Agents Plan to Strike Despite 2012 Olympic Events
In what is suspected to be the busiest day in airport history for Heathrow, UK Border Agency immigration staff plan to carry out a proposed strike in protest of job cuts.
Nearly 1,000 more agents than intended were recently let go from the UK border agency and the agency had to hire extra workers as well as increase overtime to meet expectations.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) feels their strike is warranted, lawful, and will be carried out on the 26th as planned. The Home Office made a public statement citing a belief, “there was a procedural error in the PCS ballot” in which near 16,000 individuals were balloted from such bodies as the Border Agency, the Identity and Passport Service and the Criminal Records Bureau in favor of the strike. PCS is the largest union in the UK with over 250,000 members. The Home office went on to state, “We want the PCS leadership to call off this irresponsible strike and we continue to ask members not to walk out at a time when the eyes of the world are on the UK.”
It may in fact come to the point where military police and public servant managers will be checking travelers’ passports at immigration during these Olympic Games. The situation is ripe for chaos and it will take increased diligence from officials manning airport checkpoints.
Travelers on the other hand will get the short end of the stick with what are sure to be increased wait time in queues and delayed appointments for those in country for business. It is advised, if possible, for travelers who are able to reroute flights to smaller airports in the UK to do so and hopefully avoid the extensive traffic they would surely be met with at Heathrow.
The UK Government insists contingency plans are set up to prevent issues during the crucial time and London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, insists there will be ample staff at Heathrow to “keep the system moving.”