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air chaos

UK Border Force strike could lead to major airport disruption over Christmas

The Border Force strikes will take place every day for the rest of the year, except 27 December.

MILLIONS OF PEOPLE travelling to and from UK airports this Christmas face disruption from long queues and transport strikes.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union employed by the UK Home Office to operate passport booths walked out today at Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester airports, and the port of Newhaven in East Sussex.

The Border Force strikes will take place every day for the rest of the year, except 27 December.

Around a quarter of a million passengers are arriving on flights at affected airports on today, including approximately 10,000 people who landed at Heathrow before 7am.

Thousands of passengers travel between Ireland and the UK every day.

Today 19 flights will fly from Dublin to London Heathrow, with another 14 from Dublin to London Gatwick, according to flight search website Skyscanner.

Travellers were warned to expect delays amid fears that long queues at passport control could lead to people being held on planes, disrupting subsequent departures.

The UK government has drafted in armed forces personnel and civil servants to operate passport booths at the six airports.

Travellers who do make it through airports won’t fare much better if they hope to continue their journey by train as thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will walk out from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on 27 December.

Major congestion is predicted for the UK’s motorways as a result, with the AA expecting 16.9 million road journeys to be made across the UK on today, with a further 16.6 million on Christmas Eve.

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “Irish citizens intending to travel to Great Britain should stay informed of the latest developments in relation to any potential in-country disruption by monitoring local media reporting and should follow the advice of local authorities.”

It advised that people travelling abroad over the Christmas period can find advice on its website here and general advice about travel to Great Britain can be found on on its website here.

PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka warned travellers could face months of disruption unless the UK Government comes forward with an improved pay offer for Border Force staff.

“We think that the action at the borders is going to be very effective. We hope that the Government will therefore do the right thing and get around the negotiating table and put some money upfront,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“If not, we are raising money, we have a strike fund that means we can sustain this action. Our strike mandate lasts right up until May. We will be supporting this action up to May and we would re-ballot again if we have to.”

The UK has been gripped by waves of strikes as the Royal Mail, National Highways and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) employees take industrial action today.

These workers will continue their strike tomorrow, when staff represented London bus workers and Environment Agency employees will also launch separate waves of action.

This follows two days of strikes by NHS staff, as thousands of nurses walked out on Tuesday, and ambulance workers joined picket lines on Wednesday.

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