From the TUC

UK Border Agency crisis: Cuts are the real story

18 Nov 2011, by in Public services

The crisis in the UK Border Agency has attracted much media commentary and coverage over the past two weeks.  The vast majority of this has focused on the “she said/he said” spat between Theresa May and Brodie Clark.  Sadly, this misses the real story.

The government is cutting the UKBA workforce by a third from 2010 to 2015.  The simple fact is that they do not have enough bodies to do the job.  That is the entire rationale for the Agency’s move towards the “risk-based” security controls at the heart of the spat.  Both May and Clark have an interest in maintaining the lie that the pilot has improved efficiency. In reality, it has always been about keeping down queues at ports and airports because there are not enough staff to process them.

PCS has been at the forefront of the fight against the cuts in the Agency, mobilizing our members for action. Mark Hammond and Sue Kendal, two PCS reps who had been at the forefront of the fight against cuts in the Border Force, were sacked by management last year on what we believe were trumped up charges. This is part of a deliberate strategy by the Agency to silence dissent and mask the effect of the cuts that have created disarray.

It comes as no surprise to PCS to hear Brodie Clark complain of the department disregarding due process and overriding the right of workers to a fair hearing where the outcome has not already been determined.  The irony for Brodie Clark, of course, is that as a senior manager in the agency, he was once in a position to do something to stop it happening.

PCS has long highlighted the damage done by the cuts programme and the consequential inability of the Home Office to deliver the service to the public that they are duty bound to. Instead of listening to us and taking remedial action, the department has tried to silence us and rubbish our claims. Recent events, however, now leave them with nowhere to hide.

The issue of immigration has, for far too, long been a political football for the press and the mainstream political parties.  More often than not, it is ordinary workers in the Home Office who are getting kicked.  This is grossly unfair, as they work hard to deliver the best service that they can despite the chronic lack of resources. PCS would welcome a more rational debate on immigration, taking full account of all social, political and economic factors. Perhaps then, we could have a serious discussion about a properly staffed department.

PCS is leading the fight against the cuts in the Home Office. We are campaigning for:

  • Job security, fair pay and fair pensions for our members and for all workers
  • An end to the damaging job cuts programme within the Home Office
  • Negotiations on a properly staffed and properly resourced department
  • The re-instatement of Mark Hammond and Sue Kendal and an end to victimization of PCS reps
  • An end to the enforcement of a “no dissent” culture in the Home Office

On 30 November 2011, the victimized will find their voice in earnest.

GUEST POST: Paul O’Connor is a National Officer for civil service union PCS.