Border Force Strike

On Wednesday afternoon the High Court was set to hear an application for an injunction to force the border force staff to work.

However, there was no need for the injunction as the decision was made not to strike on the eve of the Olympics. The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said that their decision to call off the strike came after a significant development in negotiations.

The dispute was over job cuts and curbs on pay rises. However, the union has claimed that there have since been new jobs advertised in numerous locations. The General Secretary, Mark Serwotka said this was "recognition that the Home Office has been cracking under the strain of massive job cuts". However, he continued by explaining that although this was a pleasing development, their concerns had first been raised eighteen months ago. It was therefore regrettable that it would appear that it was only with the threat of actions taking place during the Olympics that progress was made.

According to the Immigration Minister the union had gained little support in its endeavours. Damian Green commented that he was pleased that the union had seen sense, especially since there were so many members who were not in support of the strike. He also added that the new jobs that the PCS had referred to were merely to fill the roles left by natural turnover. He was reluctant to associate any new jobs with their threat to strike.

Colin Leckey, a partner at Lewis Silkin's Trade Unions and Collective Rights Group discussed the impact of an injunction threat. "The government had announced that it was seeking to injunct the PCS strike on the basis of 'procedural errors'. Only those close to that dispute can know whether this threat ultimately caused the PCS to back down. However, experience suggests that even the threat of potentially successful injunction proceedings can provide an employer with a useful bargaining chip in negotiations with unions." Due to the complaints over the low percentage of workers who actually voted in favour of the action, it has been suggested that there should be a minimum of fifty per cent votes in favour to make a strike action vote valid in the future.

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