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Border Agency staff have called off their planned strike on the eve of the Olympics before the government could use legal action to force them to work.The High Court was set to hear an injunction application from the government this afternoon to prevent the walkout.However, the Public and Commercial Services union pre-empted this move by calling off the strike today. The PCS said that its decision to cancel the 24-hour strike was based on “a significant development” in dispute negotiations over job cuts and pay rise curbs. The union claimed that the Home Office is now advertising 800 new permanent jobs, including posts at Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton, and will be recruiting 300 new people in the passport service. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said this was “recognition that the Home Office has been cracking under the strain of massive job cuts”.Serwotka added: "We are pleased that with these new posts and the progress made in talks we are able to avert a strike ahead of the Olympics. But we first raised our concerns 18 months ago, so it is deeply regrettable that ministers allowed this dispute to escalate.”Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “We are pleased that the PCS leadership has seen sense and called off this irresponsible strike which was not supported by the majority of members.”But he added: “No concessions have been made by the government. We don’t recognise the figure of 800 new jobs at Border Force quoted by Mr Serwotka and no new jobs have been advertised since the union threatened to strike. IPS posts are being advertised to fill gaps left by normal staff turnover.” Colin Leckey, partner at Lewis Silkin’s Trade Unions and Collective Rights Group, said: “The government had announced that it was seeking to injunct the PCS strike on the basis of ‘procedural errors’. Only those close to that dispute can know whether this threat ultimately caused the PCS to back down. However, experience suggests that even the threat of potentially successful injunction proceedings can provide an employer with a useful bargaining chip in negotiations with unions.” He also said that the low turnout in the PCS strike ballot had prompted renewed calls for a 50 per cent minimum workforce vote to make such action valid. Last week, the government faced criticism in a National Audit Office report for staff shortages and reduced performance at the agency. The report found the problems were created by the Home Office’s transformation programme, which it said had shed workers “faster than planned”.
Has it taken the threat of strike action to prompt the Home Office to announce the recruitment for 800 much needed Border Officers? Shame on you Teresa May.