Ministers are seeking an urgent injunction to prevent border staff from going on strike tomorrow, on the eve of the Olympic Games' opening ceremony.
The Public and Commercial Services Union is planning a day of action on Thursday, the busiest single day for flight arrivals to the UK. If the strike goes ahead, it could lead to long delays for thousands of passengers, including those trying to reach Olympic venues.
However, the Home Office is claiming there was a procedural error in the union strike ballot and has called on the High Court to ban tomorrow's industrial action. Only 12% of the PCS membership voted in the strike.
"We want the PCS leadership to call off this irresponsible strike and we continue to ask members not to walk out at a time when the eyes of the world are on the UK," it said. Home Office minister Lord Henley said his department was checking the legality of the strike and if it was illegal it would seek action through the courts.
But the union said it would "robustly defend" such a move. "There are some very serious issues at the heart of this dispute - not least plans to cut 8,500 Home Office jobs, a third of the workforce," the union said. "We can all see the damaging effect these cuts are having on the department's ability to function, whether at the borders or in the passport service.
"Our preference is to resolve these by negotiation, and we would hope ministers would rather sit down and talk to us, instead of going to the courts.
"It is our intention to robustly defend any legal challenge."
Home Secretary Theresa May said the Government had contingency plans in place to ensure people can pass through border controls "as smoothly as possible" if the strike does go ahead.
By Linsey McNeill
Wednesday, July 25, 2012