Christmas travel danger for Spain: UK border guards on strike

by Lorraine Williamson
UK border guards strike
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The Christmas and New Year holidays is looking complicated for anyone who wants to travel to and from the UK. This is because border guards (both at ports and airports) are being called on a month-long strike 

All civil servants in the UK are called to strike over pay, pensions and job security. With borders, airports and all areas of transport affected, this is threatening to derail the Christmas holidays. The strike will start in mid-December and continue for a month, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said. 

UK border guards to strike demanding an increase in wages 

These agents are in charge of carrying out passport control, although there is also the option of using automated systems. As reported by Metro, the PCS union has asked its members who work for the UK Ministries of the Interior, Transport and the Environment, as well as border guards, to strike and to demand an increase in wages. 

It’s about ‘choosing between heating and eating’ 

“PCS members are angry. They helped this country through the pandemic and in return the government is treating them horribly,” said Mark Serwotka, the union’s general secretary. “With inflation now at 11.1%, it is inconceivable that they are expected to cope with yet another real-terms pay cut. “With tens of thousands of members on poverty pay, it is no longer about tightening belts. It is about choosing between heating and eating — and that is simply not acceptable for the government’s own workforce. 

Highest percentage in the union’s history voted in favour of striking 

“We have made it clear to the Cabinet Office that we are available for talks throughout this period. I hope that they do the right thing and come back to the table prepared to meet our demands. The PCS union said 86.2% of its workers voted in favour of striking, the highest percentage vote in the union’s history.  

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Union’s demands would cost the government an unaffordable £2.4 billion

A government representative said: “We regret this decision. We greatly value the work of civil servants across the country, but the PCS union’s demands would cost an unaffordable £2.4 billion at a time when our focus must be on bringing down inflation to ease the pressure on households across the country, protect the vulnerable and rebuild our economy. 

“Discussions will continue but we can provide reassurance that we have comprehensive plans in place to keep essential services running and to minimise disruption if these PCS strikes do go ahead.” 

What’s at stake? 

Specifically, last year 4.3 million British tourists visited Spain, which represented 13.8% of the total number of tourists received, placing the United Kingdom in third place. In tourist spending, the British market is in the second position with €4,773.6 million. 

The increase in air capacity —slot requests— of airlines in traffic between the UK and Spain, with growth for this winter season already exceeding that of 2019, anticipates a good summer. According to data from Turespaña and the INE, the tourist year 2021 recovered compared to 2020, both inflow of tourists (+36.6%), as well as in spending (+52.8%) and hotel overnight stays (+63.6% ). 

Also read: Why are the UK warning British tourists about travelling to Spain?

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