29 June 2011 by Luke McCormick
Travellers arriving into Britain are being warned to brace for 'severe' disruption after the UK Border Agency (UKBA) announced it would be taking part in industrial action.
The Public & Commercial Services Union, of which the UKBA is a part, has called a one-day strike, which will begin this evening at 6pm (Wednesday 29 June) and end at midnight on Thursday 30 June.
The strike will affect border controls at most airports and ports, however the UKBA says it is working to minimise disruption and match resource to demand.
The UKBA said in a statement: "People travelling into the UK may experience delays at border control. The impact of the strike will be different at individual ports, airports and international rail terminals. We have put contingency plans in place and will work hard to keep delays to a minimum.
"The priorities of the UK Border Agency will remain the security of the UK border and managing migration."
A spokesman for airport operator BAA, which manages Heathrow, Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports, said the strike would only affect arrivals, as checks on departing passengers are carried out by BAA staff and not the UKBA.
However he warned, "Certainly there will be queues at immigration, there's no doubt of that."
Automatic gates such as IRIS and e-Passport will be available and non-operational staff be on hand to queue comb and ensure that adult passengers with chipped biometric passports use the e-Passport gates where available.
UKBA has also made it clear it will take advantage of new ‘smart zones' on trial at Gatwick, Luton and Birmingham and ensure they are operational.
It is expected that as many as 500,000 thousand people will be affected by the action today, including passengers transferring flights in the UK, particularly non-EU citizens.