PCS says Home Office investigation must look at impact of 10% redundancies and sacking of two union reps


The Public and Commercial Services union has welcomed confirmation from the Home Secretary of an independent inquiry into claims that the UK border force ceased carrying out some passport checks during the summer.

Theresa May told MPs the Head of UKBA Brodie Clark had “authorised wider relaxation of border controls without ministerial sanction”. He and two other senior officials have been suspended, pending the outcome of the inquiry.

However, PCS says the investigation must have a sufficiently wide remit to look at the impact of staff cuts and in particular at the circumstances leading to the sacking of two union reps at the UK Border Agency earlier this year.

Since October 2010, 2,300 jobs – around 10% of the workforce – have been cut from UKBA, with another 3,000 planned to go by 2014/15. Labour accuses the Home Secretary and other ministers of giving the ‘green light’ to less strict passport checks.

An earlier report by MPs alleged staff at the agency were told to relax identity checks on non-EU nationals and that tens of thousands of asylum seeker and immigration cases had been “dumped” into what was termed a “controlled archive”, with the agency giving up on them.  A board member of the UK Border Agency has already been suspended over the allegations along with two others.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:  “These latest allegations of poor management, added to recent criticism of backlogs in casework, are symptomatic of a much wider malaise at an agency in disarray.

“The UK Border Agency seems to operate a culture of no dissent, with staff afraid to speak out about the damaging impact of politically-motivated cuts and the problems they’re causing that are now bubbling to the surface.

“Rather than deal with the very serious issues we have consistently raised, senior managers and ministers have instead tried to silence the union. Two of our senior reps were sacked last year after leading the opposition to cuts in UKBA.

“It should now be obvious to everyone that the government needs to put an immediate stop to the cuts in UKBA and invest in staff and resources to ensure this pattern is not simply repeated.”

The Home Office investigation is to be led by the Independent Inspector of the UK Border Agency, John Vine – a former police Chief Constable.

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