THE Tories are threatening emergency action to either ban the official strike action next Thursday by Home Office PCS union members, including Border Agency staff, or sack the workers involved.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC on Saturday: ‘It’s an absolute disgrace. It’s totally out of sync with the way everybody else is behaving.
‘If, you know, Labour and the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats can come together to unite behind the Olympics, I think this is just a moment when you’ve just got to read the mood of the country a bit better.’
Asked about the possibility of sacking the strikers, he replied: ‘I can tell you amongst ministers there have been people asking whether we should be doing that but I don’t want to escalate things by talking about that right now.’
Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson piled in yesterday, saying the strike plan is ‘a mistake’ and ‘we have contingency plans to make sure that we get people through the airports and to the venues on time.’
Drivers union ASLEF is planning strikes, on August 6, 7 and 8 by members working for East Midlands Trains over demands for increased pensions contributions.
Labour leader Ed Miliband on Saturday branded both strikes as ‘totally wrong’.
He said: ‘I don’t think they should be happening. Nothing must be allowed to disrupt the Olympic Games.
‘I implore anybody involved in these strikes not to go ahead with them.’
Their comments follow Home Secretary Theresa May’s branding of the strike decision ‘shameful’.
Defending the strike plan, PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said yesterday: ‘The lives of staff have been made intolerable by the cuts and they’re at breaking point.
‘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.’
A PCS statement said: ‘Ministers have been scaremongering about disruption to the Olympics as a means of distracting attention from the real issues of compulsory redundancy and job cuts. . .
‘The government can avoid this strike if it negotiates a settlement with the union, as we have repeatedly invited them to do.
‘But instead of negotiating, the Home Office unilaterally announced 8,500 job cuts, and the government imposed a two-year pay freeze and a cap of one per cent for two years after that.’