Border Agency strike called off amid new job claims
By Vivienne Russell | 25 July 2012
The Public and Commercial Services union has called off a strike set for tomorrow, claiming the Home Office has made commitments on job creation.
Staff working at the Home Office, UK Border Agency, Identity and Passport Service and Criminal Records Bureau were set to down tools on Thursday in protest at job losses. The timing of the strike had sparked fears of airport chaos the day before the Olympic Games are due to begin. Ministers were hoping to secure a High Court injunction to block the strike.
But the union today announced that it had suspended the strike because the Home Office said it would advertise 800 new permanent jobs at the Border Agency and 300 new jobs at the passport service. The PCS leadership said it had also secured a commitment to ‘ongoing negotiations’ on the issues under dispute, especially compulsory redundancies at the passport agency.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘These new jobs are a welcome step towards a recognition that the Home Office has been cracking under the strain of massive job losses, and that the answer is not more cuts but more investment.
‘We are pleased that with these new posts and the progress made in talks we are able to avert a strike ahead of the Olympics. But we first raised our concerns 18 months ago, so it is deeply regrettable that ministers allowed this dispute to escalate.’
But immigration minister Damian Green said he did not recognise the job-creation claims made by the PCS. 'No concessions have been made by the government. We don’t recognise the figure of 800 new jobs at the Border Force quoted by Mr Serwotka and no new jobs have been advertised since the union threatened to strike. Identity and Passport Service posts are being advertised to fill gaps left by normal staff turnover.'
Green added: 'We are pleased that the PCS leadership has seen sense and called off this irresponsible strike which was not supported by the majority of members.'