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How will our airports cope with the border staff strike?

4,000 Immigration Services Union workers plan to strike on May 10th. Photo: Reuters

When some of the country's airports have been hit by what even the Prime Minister admits are "unacceptable" queues to get through passport control, it begs the question: How are they going to cope when thousands of border staff walk out next week?

On Wednesday the Immigration Services Union informed the Home Office it plans to put out on strike its 4,000 members who work for the UK Borders Agency on 10 May.

They will be joining the thousands of members of the more militant PCS Union who are already striking over pension changes.

If the borders are not coping well when they are fully staffed, it sets the scene for either a chaotic or less secure border next Thursday when they are hit by industrial action.

The Immigration Minsiter Damian Green (who denied there was a problem until the Prime Minsiter told him there was) said in a statement: "We will use tried and tested contingency plans to ensure we minimise any disruption caused by planned union action.”

But passengers who have had to endure delays of up to two and a half hours to get through passport control will be forgiven for treating that claim with some scepticism.

Both the Home Office and British Airways have told ITV News they are not yet telling passengers to reschedule their travel plans next Thursday even though that is exactly what they did ask travellers to do last November when nationwide public sector strikes hit the UK's borders.

The unions claim the government will minimise delays by lifting security and "wave passengers through."

But at a time when the country is about to host the biggest sporting event in the world, neither disruption caused by government cuts at the Borders Agecy, nor the threat of disruption caused by union action, are a particularly good advertisement for the UK.