Opinion Former Article

PCS: Border agency staff to go on strike

UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff working at juxtaposed controls in Calais, Dunkirk, Coquelles and Boulogne will be taking part in a one-day strike tomorrow, following the breakdown of talks with management over plans to slash subsistence rates, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said today.

Immigration controls for ferry traffic heading for the UK could be hit as over 470 staff strike over plans to scrap allowances for day and night shifts and cut the overnight allowance by a third, from 68 Euros to just 45 Euros.

The union estimates that the average staff member could lose over £500 a month in allowances which are given to UKBA staff who work on immigration controls and undertake freight searches in France on detached duty.

PCS had hoped to reach a negotiated settlement, but management's continued refusal to seriously address staff concerns has left border officials feeling angry and betrayed. 19 December is one of the busiest days of the year at the juxtaposed controls, with massively increased freight and tourist traffic due to the Christmas period leading the union to warn of substantial queues and tailbacks as a result of the strike.

PCS has over 470 members working on juxtaposed controls in France. On a ballot turnout of 72%, 96% voted in favour of the strike action and 4% against.

Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "Staff working away from home in another country are quite rightly angry at the way the agency is seeking to slash agreed allowances. These are dedicated staff who do a difficult job and work unsociable hours. It is disgraceful that the average staff member stands to lose over £500 a month because of imposed changes by the UKBA. We had hoped to find a negotiated outcome, but management's refusal to address staff concerns has left them feeling angry and betrayed. With support for strike action running high, we would urge the UKBA to reconsider its plans and recognise the important role that UKBA staff play."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For further information, interviews and comment please contact Alex Flynn PCS national press officer on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216.

PCS, the Public and Commercial Services Union is the union representing civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies. It also represents workers in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich.

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