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UK Travel Delays Expected during Public Sector Strike

Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) LogoTravellers that had planned to begin a getaway today in Britain should be prepared for severe disruption due to a strike by public sector workers, whose pensions are being threatened. This strike will include the participation of teachers, civil servants and even passport control officers. The UK Border Agency has warned holidaymakers and businesspeople to avoid flying if they can so they don’t get caught up in the disruption caused by the immigration officials that will join the strike.

The British Airports Authority (BAA), which owns the Heathrow, Glasgow, Stansted, Aberdeen and Edinburgh airports, says that there will certainly be queues at immigration checkpoints. The strike will affect arrivals only, as BAA staff carry out the checks of departing travellers.

Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) members are due to walkout on their posts at air terminals, which will increase passport control queues. General secretary Mark Serwotka has warned that there is theoretically a risk to security in relation to smuggling and border security due to the strikes. Attempts to train UK Border Agency managers to replace passport checkers won’t prevent delays. Severe disruptions and delays are likely at both airports and ports, he continued. Delays could be particularly bad at Heathrow and Dover, where there are strong union memberships.

Travellers transferring in Britain are expected to have trouble – especially non-European Union passengers, as their passport checks take about 2 hours. This time may be greatly increased, while people who arrive in the UK will be disrupted with delays.

The UK Border Agency wrote to airlines at Heathrow to warn that some travellers could experience delays at the border and that passengers who can travel another day may choose do so. Acting head Jonathan Sedgwick said that they will do all they can to minimise the disruption and inconvenience for passengers, but their priority is always to ensure the security of the border.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has warned that passengers who miss connections due to the delays may face issues as well. Travellers don’t have any rights when it comes to getting stuck in an immigration queue, according to an agency spokesman. If there are knock-on delays that cause passengers to miss their connection, they aren’t protected since the issue is outside of the carrier’s control.

In the meantime, parents are set to suffer a big inconvenience as teachers go on strike. Many will have to take the off so they can look after their kids, which will cost them pay, as well as hit productivity. Downing Street has predicted that about one-fifth of civil servants will participate in the walkout, but this could increase due to the impact of school closings. Plus, job centres and courts will be affected, but they are expected to stay open.

Prime Minister David Cameron says he doesn’t believe there is cause for this industrial action. Their pension reform proposal is fair for taxpayers and the public sector, as they want to protect strong pensions, he explained.

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