A strike on the eve of the Olympics has been called by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) for thousands of workers at the Home Office. It will involve staff from the UK Border Agency, Identity and Passport Service and Criminal Records Bureau. The 24 hour strike on 26th July, which could severely disrupt travel to and from airports in the UK on one of their busiest days of the year, is over plans to cut 8,500 jobs, cap pay rises at 1% following a two-year wage freeze, privatisating services and the threat of compulsory redundancies in the passport office in Newport, South Wales.
Contingency plans are being drawn up to cope with the strain on the services, but the act has been branded “shameful” by politicians and travel businesses.
In an article in the Independent, 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.”
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.”
Of the 20% turnout in the ballot, around 57% voted for strikes.
What do you think about the strike? Is it justified at a time when the country is putting on the Olympics and is trying to show itself off to the world? Or have these issues raised by the union gone on without solution for too long and this is the only way to get the negotiations started? Please post your comments below.