UKBA have released a statement regarding the planned UK strikes next week on the 30th November 2011.
Thousands of civil servants in the UK are expected to go on strike next week in protest at government proposals which will change the pension scheme for public sector workers. Since immigration officials will be taking part, there have been serious concerns about the extent to which travel in and out of the UK will be affected. UKBA assure the public in their statement that:
“Robust arrangements are in place to maintain the security of the border ahead of planned strike action on 30 November 2011. Over the last weeks and months we have undertaken significant work, including:
- training managers, staff and contractors to the high standards needed to carry out secure border checks;
- asking staff from overseas posts to provide additional cover on the day; and
- working with travel partners like airlines and port operators to identify potential pressure points.”
They have also issued the following advice for travellers:
The 4 Home Office unions are participating in a strike which will affect border control from the beginning of the evening of Tuesday 29 November until 23:59 on Wednesday 30 November. Starting times will vary as each port has different shift patterns.
We will aim to keep disruption at a minimum but our priority remains the security of the border and we could see longer waiting times at some ports and airports. We have put contingency plans in place and will work hard to keep delays to a minimum.
You may wish to check with your carrier if you are travelling on 30 November.
Passengers arriving in the UK can assist us by:
- having travel documents, including passports, available and taken out of any wallets;
- using automatic e-Passport gates (where available);
- having landing cards fully completed and ready; and
- staying in family groups.
Services in the UK, including enforcement and public enquiry offices, will be as close to business-as-usual service as possible.
The full statement can be read here and you should continue to check UKBA”s site for updates.
The Guardian has also released detailed guidance for travellers which can be read here.
According to Sky News and other media outlets, the British Army has been drafted in to help staff the UK’s borders in the face of Wednesday’s strikes. They are expected to help at passport controls in Heathrow, Gatwick and other entry ports across the country.
British Airways have been offering customers the chance to switch flights free of charge, in order to avoid travelling into the UK on Wednesday.