Brits warned of ‘very long’ airport queues at Christmas

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A Government minister has warned travellers that there could be travel disruption this Christmas. Border force staff have indicated there could be strikes during the holiday season.

Border Force staff have voted to strike as part of a pay dispute and the union has indicated that strikes could impact Christmas and New Year.

Aviation minister Baroness Vere told the ABTA Travel Matters conference: “No days for strikes have been declared at the moment and the Government does have mitigation measures in place.”

However, the minister warned that passengers could face “very long queues” in some places and passengers could face disruption.

Soldiers have reportedly been receiving training and could step into Border Force roles at Folkestone and Heathrow.

Baroness Vere said: “The Government is talking to third parties about keeping ports and airports open.

“The Home Office has set out its plans and the Department for Transport is working very closely with the transport operators.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “It is likely there will be queues at Christmas, particularly at Heathrow.”

The PCS Union, which includes the Border Force staff, said: “We are now in a position to call significant industrial action in support of our claim for a 10 percent pay rise, pensions justice, job security and no cuts to redundancy terms.”

The earliest that strikes could begin is December 21 as unions have to provide two weeks’ notice for industrial action.

Baroness Vere added that the rail strikes scheduled to take place over Christmas were not “helpful”.

She said: “I wish the unions would have more conversations with the train operating companies.

“This can’t continue forever. There is no open cheque book. There can’t be, and I would remind the union of the enormous contribution the Treasury made during the pandemic which meant no one lost their job.”

The RMT union has announced strikes to take place from December 24-27, in addition to other strikes already planned for the month.

Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary, said that it was “unfortunate” that the strikes would impact people.

However, he added: “We have to respond to what the companies are doing and they are doing that very deliberately.”

The rail unions recently rejected an offer of an eight percent pay rise from the Rail Delivery Group.

The union said: “Our members would be stuck with two below inflation offers, the closure of ticket offices, the removal of guards and lots of job losses. This is an awful offer and it’s the passenger that loses.”

Britons are likely to face disruption over Christmas and will need to plan ahead if they’re travelling home.

Days around the strikes could also be affected so passengers are advised to avoid travel if possible.

Planned engineering work for the holiday period may also not be able to go ahead if the strikes take place.

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