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‘Sabotaging of the Olympics’: Theresa May attacks border staff walkout that has cast a shadow over Games build-up

July 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Theresa May last night accused a militant minority of attempting to sabotage the Olympic Games as union bosses confirmed a potentially devastating strike by border staff next week.

The walkout on Thursday threatens to paralyse Britain’s airports on the eve of the Games opening ceremony, and cast a shadow over London 2012 before it has even begun.

Bosses of the Public and Commercial Services Union confirmed the timing of the strike yesterday and insisted it would go ahead, despite barely one in ten of those eligible voting in favour.

Sabotage: Theresa May has written an open letter to border staff urging them to defy the walkout and 'do what their country needs'Sabotage: Theresa May has written an open letter to border staff urging them to defy the walkout and ‘do what their country needs’

In an open letter to border staff, the Home Secretary issued a patriotic call for them to defy the walkout in a dispute over job cuts, pay and privatisation.

She urged them to ‘do what their country needs’ and ‘turn up for work’.

She wrote: ‘The union bosses who are trying to disrupt the Olympic Games should hang their heads in shame.

‘I simply do not understand how anyone could want to take industrial action against the Greatest Show on Earth. Their behaviour is nothing short of sabotage.

The public will neither sympathise nor understand.’ David Cameron said the strike was not ‘justifiable’, while Labour leader Ed Miliband said: ‘People should not be disrupting the Olympic Games.’

Immigration minister Damian Green said the PCS decision to strike was 'shameful'Immigration minister Damian Green said the PCS decision to strike was ‘shameful’

Business groups also condemned the strike, which was backed by just 1,800 out of 16,000 balloted workers.

The turnout was 20 per cent, meaning some 3,200 voted. Of those, 57 per cent voted in favour of a strike.

It is cynically timed to do maximum damage on the day when Olympic arrivals through Heathrow are expected to peak.

Around 127,000 passengers are due to pass through the airport, a 45 per cent increase in normal numbers.

‘People should not be disrupting the Olympic Games.’

The walkout is also likely to hit hundreds of thousands of families heading overseas for their summer holiday.

The union has instructed staff to ‘work to rule’ and refuse to do overtime for nearly a month from July 27 to August 20. It said further strikes could be called for later this year.

The strike will spark further demands from Tory backbenchers for tougher union laws to stop a handful of workers in effect holding the country to ransom.

Tory ministers have discussed requiring a 40 per cent minimum turnout before a strike is lawful, and London Mayor Boris Johnson has said half of eligible voters should have to approve a strike for it to go ahead.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said 'cuts' meant staff were at breaking pointPCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said ‘cuts’ meant staff were at breaking point

PCS members make up around 5,000 out of 8,000 Border Force staff who check passports at Britain’s ports and airports.

Ministers have promised that every passport checking station at Heathrow will be manned during the busy summer period, a pledge which could be fatally undermined by the strike.

Immigration minister Damian Green said the PCS decision to strike was ‘shameful’ and insisted contingency plans were in place.

However, he admitted it was impossible to forecast the scale of the disruption.

He said: ‘We’ve got, obviously, contingency plans in place, we’ve known about the strike ballot for some time, and indeed this is the third strike the PCS has called in the last nine months.’ Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary, claimed ‘cuts’ meant staff were at breaking point.

He said: ‘Ministers have known about these issues for a very long time and need to act now to sort out the chaos they have caused.

‘They’re acting recklessly in cutting so many jobs and privatising services, and are provocatively refusing to talk to us with a genuine desire to reach an agreement.’

Later Mr Serwotka claimed that the strike would not affect the Olympics.

He told the BBC: ‘I think the Government is whipping up hysteria about the Olympics, there’ll be no disruption to the Olympics, this is a 24-hour strike before the Olympics actually takes place.’

Train drivers also announced an Olympics strike yesterday over pensions. Members of the Aslef union on East Midlands Trains, serving London, the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, plan to walk out on August 6, 7 and 8, when a number of athletics finals will be held in the Olympic Stadium.

The company, owned by Stagecoach, said the public will be ‘shocked and angry’ that strikes are being planned at a time of ‘great national pride’.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2176246/London-2012-Olympics-Theresa-May-attacks-border-staff-walkout-cast-shadow-Games-build-up.html#ixzz219Q9gv4l

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London 2012: Minister admits security ‘debacle”

July 17, 2012 Leave a comment

The lack of security staff for the Olympics is a “debacle”

 

caused by poor Games organisation, a minister has said.

 

Home Office 'has presided over an Olympic security shambles'

Theresa May faces more quesitons over the Olympic security “shambles”

By , and Rosa Prince

6:17PM BST 16 Jul 2012

Andrew Robathan, a defence minister, made the remarks as Theresa May, the Home Secretary, admitted that she still did not know how many guards G4S would eventually provide for London 2012.

The former soldier’s blunt assessment contrasts with claims by Cabinet ministers that the security contractor’s shortage of personnel is normal and manageable.

The company has provided only around 4,000 of the 10,400 guards it has been paid for. Nick Buckles, its chief executive, faces MPs’ questions today.

The shortfall is being filled by the Services and police. Nine forces have been forced to deploy officers on work G4S was supposed to carry out.

Greater Manchester Police estimated that covering for the firm would cost it £30,000 a day. The Home Office said costs would be clawed back from G4S, which was given a £284 million contract for Olympic security.

G4S has said that many police officers will be able to stand down as it delivers more trained staff to Games sites in time for their opening on Friday of next week. The firm has accredited 20,000 people for the event, but questioned in the Commons, Mrs May admitted that G4S had not yet given ministers a clear figure for how many of its staff would be in place when the Games began.

“The precise balance of the number who will be provided will become clear over the next few days,” she said.

She rejected Labour claims of mismanagement, saying the firm only disclosed the problem to ministers last week. Previously, it had repeatedly insisted it would “overshoot its targets”.

Mrs May has repeatedly insisted that the situation is “not a shambles” and Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, has said it was “quite normal” for the company to fail to meet its obligations.

Hugh Robertson, the sports minister, also played down the row, saying: “This isn’t significantly embarrassing.” But speaking in the Commons about the additional military deployment, Mr Robathan, a former SAS officer, was openly critical.

Some officers fear the deployment of an extra 3,500 Armed Forces personnel will lead to longer tours in Afghanistan for other soldiers. Mr Robathan said: “Nobody will remain longer on operations in Afghanistan because of this debacle over the G4S contract.”

Backing Conservative calls for more former Armed Forces personnel to be recruited by G4S, Mr Robathan insisted: “It was not recruiting that was the problem but the organisation of the Olympics in general in terms of security.”

Shares in G4S have fallen by 9 per cent over the security row. The firm insisted it was addressing the problems.

“Some venues are being supported by police in the short term, while the private security workforce is being mobilised,” the firm said.

“This situation is being rectified over the coming days.”

Original Post:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/news/9404096/London-2012-Minister-admits-security-debacle.html

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