British soldiers hired by the government to replace striking passport control agents seem to have mitigated the unrest, amid public sector protests demanding better wages.
It was expected that the number of passengers arriving at the six airports covered by the strike that precedes the Christmas holiday, which falls at the end of the week, would be about a quarter of a million passengers.
And while travelers were warned, yesterday, Friday, that they might face a prolonged delay, Gatwick and Heathrow airports confirmed that their immigration halls were operating as usual, after the government hired members of the armed forces. and civil servantsAccording to a report by Agence France-Presse.
Passenger Lucy Zilberwaite said in a tweet that her plane “just landed at Heathrow Airport, I have never witnessed an event like this. The army handles border security,” noting that she crossed the airport very quickly.
The strike, organized by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, took part in about 1,000 workers at Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow, Manchester and the southern port of Newhaven.
The strike is the first of 8 strikes held daily between Friday and January 1, with the exception of December 27.
And railway workers will strike from work from Saturday afternoon, on Christmas Eve, until Tuesday morning, while the country is witnessing strikes by highway and postal workers.
Last year witnessed a series of union movements, from port workers to lawyers, to protest the decline in purchasing power as a result of the rise in inflation to the highest level in decades.
Friday’s move comes in the wake of strikes organized this week by nurses and ambulance crews to protest the government’s refusal to increase their wages, which have remained the same for years in the midst of a cost of living crisis that has led to a rise in inflation to nearly 11%.
On Friday, the Royal Society of Nursing (RCN) announced that nurses would strike again on January 18-19.
The General Confederation of Trade Unions (GMB) announced that the ambulance crews’ strike, scheduled for December 28, had been suspended on Friday, and the union urged the government to “sit at the table and discuss wages.”
But Health Secretary Steve Barclay was not open to a salary settlement, saying in a statement that union demands for better wages were “unaffordable” and would deprive essential services of money and “cause further delays in care,” expressing his “disappointment.” For the nurses to go ahead and announce more strikes.
The minister continued, “Strikes are not in the interest of anyone, least of all the patients, and I urge the federations to reconsider their decision to move forward with more union actions in order to avoid greater repercussions for the patients.”
The government insists on smaller increases than those demanded, based on the recommendations of independent wage review bodies, in order to control inflation.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “I think we all know that the biggest economic challenge we all face is inflation. It is inflation that gnaws at everyone’s salaries,” stressing his keenness to “reduce inflation.”
“They are working poor,” he said in a statement to BBC radio, noting that the dispute also includes pensions and job security.
More than a thousand members of the naval, land and air forces have received training to carry out the tasks of these and ambulance crews, and in return they will receive 20 pounds ($ 25) for every day they are asked to replace the strikers between December 19 and January 2.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said: “While unions continue to strike for our public services, it is appropriate that our personnel receive compensation for having to carry out tasks beyond their regular duties.”