Pre-Olympics strike by immigration staff called off

A planned strike tomorrow by Home Office staff has been suspended after the government pledged more than 1,000 new jobs.

The strike organised by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) would have included staff across the Home Office, including the UK Border Agency, the Identity and Passport Service and Criminal Records Bureau.

The union has been pressing since January 2011 for meaningful negotiations over the government's plans to cut 8,500 Home Office jobs, a third of the workforce, including 1,000 from the border force and more than 5,000 across UKBA as a whole.

In a significant development, the Home Office is now advertising 800 new permanent jobs at the borders – including posts at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and other airports and ports across the UK – and will be recruiting 300 new jobs in the passport service.

"These new jobs are a welcome step towards a recognition that the Home Office has been cracking under the strain of massive job losses, and that the answer is not more cuts but more investment,” PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said. "We are pleased that with these new posts and the progress made in talks we are able to avert a strike ahead of the Olympics. But we first raised our concerns 18 months ago, so it is deeply regrettable that ministers allowed this dispute to escalate.”

PCS parliamentary group chair John McDonnell said the government had finally seen sense. “The union has secured a tremendous breakthrough to protect its members' jobs,” Mr. McDonnell said. "This could have been sorted weeks ago. There was no need for this heavy-handed brinkmanship by the government."

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