Opinion Former Article

PCS: Thousands of jobs under threat in UK Border Agency, union fears

Staff in the UK Border Agency fear thousands of jobs could be axed in the next few years after plans were announced to cut 1,700 posts this year, the Public and Commercial Services union says.

In a statement issued to staff earlier this week, UKBA chief executive Lin Homer announced the cuts, saying they would come from voluntary redundancies and "natural wastage".

But the union believes further cuts of almost a third of the UKBA's 20,000 staff are planned in the coming years, coupled with a massive increase in workloads for those that remain. At a meeting with PCS officials this afternoon (9 June), Ms Homer failed to offer assurances about the future of jobs in the agency.

These cuts will hit the agency's casework particularly hard, and the advice and support staff provide to some of the most vulnerable members of society will inevitably suffer.

The news comes after a report published earlier this year by the chief inspector of UKBA John Vine noted the agency would struggle to meet its targets with the staff it had.

UKBA was the first employer to announce redundancies under what it believed were new civil service redundancy terms on 1 April - changes the union has successfully challenged in the High Court.

PCS national officer for UKBA Paul O'Connor said: "We always said the government's attempt to slash redundancy terms was a precursor to massive job cuts. We will be at the forefront of the fight to resist this disgraceful attack on our members' livelihoods."

PCS deputy general secretary Hugh Lanning said: "There have been some fine words this week from the coalition government about consultation and engagement. These words now need to be put into action, and we do not expect senior managers to start drawing up plans for massive job cuts behind closed doors.

"We do not accept the need for such deep cuts and we cannot see how they can be achieved without seriously damaging services provided to the public."

ENDS

Notes

- For information and interview requests, contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents 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 fifth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich

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