Travellers warned of delays as Border Force staff strike at airports; postal workers take action again – business live

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Encouraging news for passengers arriving at Manchester:

Just arrived back from the Maldives into Manchester and no issues at passport control / border force. Family of five with kids. Straight through. #manchesterairport

— Antony Chesworth (@AntonyChesworth) December 23, 2022

Earlier this week, Manchester Airport said there could be longer queues at immigration control once the Border Force strikes began, but did not anticipate any flights being cancelled.

Delays at the border are most likely after several flights land around the same time.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of Advantage Travel Partnership group, the UK’s largest independent travel agent group, predicts that “the vast majority of people are likely to face NO major delay at passport control”.

Anxious time today for travellers flying into the 6 UK airports impacted by #borderforce strikes. Whilst things do go wrong, the vast majority of people are likely to face NO major delay at passport control, when multiple flights arrive at the same time there is always a queue.

— Julia Lo Bue-Said (@jlo_said) December 23, 2022

Full story: Border Force staff join strikes as postal workers walk out again

Gwyn Topham

Heathrow, the biggest of the six airports where Border Force staff are striking, has said it expected the vast majority of journeys to be unaffected, with no flights cancelled before the industrial action.

About 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will continue to strike over the remaining days of 2022, apart from 27 December.

Just under 9,000 flights are now scheduled to land at the six affected airports – Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester – during the strikes, carrying up to 1.8 million passengers, according to data from the aviation analytics firm Cirium. Officials will also strike at one seaport, Newhaven in East Sussex.

The airports are confident that the contingency staff and e-gates, which will be unaffected, will process most passengers effectively during the strikes. The volume of passengers travelling through airports is still only about 85% of pre-pandemic levels.

Here’s the full story:

Gatwick: Flights are operating normally, but passport checks will take longer

Flights are operating normally at Gatwick this morning, says Adam Jones, the head of passenger operations at the airport, as the Border Force strike begins.

He told Sky News that everything was working smoothly at the border this morning, with contingency staff in place. He’s confident that the airport will operate as normal, with flights arriving and departing on time.

Jones says:

We expect passport checks to take a bit longer, and we do anticipate some disruption, but flights are operating normally – arrivals and departures – and we expect that to continue.

The passport control booths at Gatwick are being staffed by Border Force staff who are not taking part in the strike, Jones adds, along with members of the armed forces and volunteers from across the Home Office who have been trained to operate border control.

At very busy times, there could be two hours of disruption at the border, Jones predicts – pointing out that eGates are available too.

To use an eGate, you need a biometric symbol on your passport, be at least 12 years old, be either a British citizen or a national of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA, or be a member of the Registered Traveller Service.

Arriving from outside the UK? There may be longer waits today at Passport Control due to Border Force strikes 🛂

Use the e-gates if you hold an eligible biometric passport, remove hats, headphones + masks 👒🎧

Allow extra time for your onward journey

— Gatwick Airport LGW (@Gatwick_Airport) December 23, 2022

Jones adds that he doesn’t see any risk of Gatwick having to shut – but if queing becomes excessive, the airport will control the amount of traffic arriving.

“Flights are operating normally.”

Head of passenger operations at Gatwick Airport Adam Jones says passport checks are expected to take “a bit longer” due to Border Force strikes – but insists everything is “working smoothly” with contingent staff.

— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 23, 2022

Introduction: Border Force staff strike as Christmas getaway begins

Good morning.

Hundreds of thousands of air passengers face possible disruption over the coming days as Border Force employees join the ranks of workers striking in the UK.

And with postal workers and National Highways staff also holding industrial action, and an overtime ban on the railways, people face disruption and delays in the Christmas rush.

Passengers arriving at several UK airports are being warned to expect delays over the strike action, which involves border controls staff who check passports.

The actions will affect London airports Heathrow and Gatwick, plus Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow and the port of Newhaven on the south coast.

They will take place from today until December 26th, and again from 28th to 31st December.

The Border Force strike is being organized by the Public and Commercial Services Union, which is seeking a 10% pay rise, “pensions justice”, job security and no cuts to redundancy terms.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka urged the govenment earlier this month to put “money on the table” to stop the strikes, saying:

“Like so many workers, our members are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. They are desperate. They are being told there is no money for them, while they watch ministers giving out government contracts worth billions of pounds to their mates.

“Some sections of the media have accused us of playing politics with these strikes. Let me be clear: our dispute is with the employer.

“We will fight to improve our members’ pay, terms and conditions regardless of who is in Downing Street.”

The UK government has made preparations to limit the impact of the walkout, including training military personnel “to step in and keep our border safe”.

Hundreds of Armed Forces personnel will provide support at airports in England and Scotland as Border Force staff take strike action.

About 625 military personnel will be on hand, with most deployed to the UK’s busiest airport at Heathrow.


— Forces News (@ForcesNews) December 23, 2022

But, it also says travellers arriving in the UK over the Christmas period should expect delays and disruption. That could include longer wait times at passport control, and possible disruption to journeys.

eGates should still be working, though, so passengers with compatible passports should use those.

Steve Dann, Border Force chief operating officer, has apologised for any disuption suffered, adding:

Border Force’s number one priority to is keep our citizens safe and borders secure. We are working together with partners across the travel industry to ensure we can continue to meet critical demand and support the flow of passengers and goods through our border.

During the periods of industrial action, travellers should be prepared for disruption.

We encourage everyone to check the latest advice from your operators before travelling.

Thousands of Royal Mail staff are beginning a two-day strike today, involving members of the Communication Workers Union who collect, sort and deliver parcels and letters.

Royal Mail says its Customer Service Points will be closed on the strike days (Friday 23 and Saturday 24 December) for collecting or dropping off items. The company also said it will do all it could to ensure delivery of last-minute Christmas cards and parcels.

National Highways workers began strike action yesterday that will run until Christmas Day, as millions start their Christmas getaways by road.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), including control-centre staff and traffic officers, are striking in London and the south-east. It follows two days of stoppages by members of the PCS on 16 and 17 December in the north-west and Yorkshire.

The four days of industrial action by the 46 members will be at three depots across the region, in Godstone, Guildford and Winchester, the union said.

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