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Queues at Heathrow to lengthen as immigration staff announce strike plans





BRITISH immigration staff have announced plans to strike next week in a move which will worsen the lengthy queues at Heathrow airport.

The Immigration Services Union, representing 4,500 border staff, will stage industrial action next Thursday as part of a national public sector strike over pensions. It will inform the Cabinet Office today of its plans.

The move could see hundreds of staff at Heathrow and other airports affected, adding to the delays already being endured at passport control.

Home Office ministers yesterday revealed they would draft in an extra 80 border staff at Heathrow in "hit squads" to tackle the immigration crisis after the Home Secretary Thereas May was brought before the Prime Minister to explain the "unacceptable" queues of over two hours.

Lucy Moreton, the deputy general secretary of the Immigration Services Union, today said: "We don't want to cause disruption, but if the Cabinet Office continues to ignore our concerns over pensions then that is what we are going to do. We have hundreds of members at Heathrowso it will have a significant impact."

The dispute is over Government plans to give border staff with a flexible retirement age instead of pegging it at 65. Ms Moreton said that could force her members to work until their late sixties or even 70 as the state retirement age rose.

The Public and Commercial Services Union also represents border staff at Heathrow and other airports and is planning to strike next week. Its spokesman Richard Simcox said: "We will be striking and it will either cause more delays or lead to untrained staff waving people through without proper checks."

It emerged today the chaos which has engulfed the Border Force has spread to Eurotunnel’s terminal at Coquelles, outside Calais in northern France.

Motorists hoping to cross the Channel are missing their shuttle services are having to wait up to an hour to clear British control posts.

At its worst the queues are backing up onto the French motorway network, which in turn has caused problems with the police in France.