The MOD says Armed Forces personnel will step in this winter during any industrial action being taken by UK Border Force staff (Picture: MOD).
The MOD says Armed Forces personnel will step in during any industrial action being taken by UK Border Force staff (Picture: MOD).
Military Life

UK military 'stands ready' for planned Border Force strikes, MOD says

The MOD says Armed Forces personnel will step in this winter during any industrial action being taken by UK Border Force staff (Picture: MOD).
The MOD says Armed Forces personnel will step in during any industrial action being taken by UK Border Force staff (Picture: MOD).

British military personnel will be ready to step in this winter during any industrial action being taken by UK Border Force staff, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) says.

Union bosses have warned that up to 3,500 of its staff, including immigration and visa officials, will begin the month-long walkout from mid-December.

Workers are said to be striking because of the ongoing dispute over workers' pay and working arrangements.

In a written statement, Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: "The Ministry of Defence has received a Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) request from the Home Office asking for military personnel to be made available as part of contingency plans to maintain public services and minimise disruption in the event of any industrial action by Border Force staff.

"Under the MACA process, defence always stands ready to respond to requests from civil authorities in line with established MACA principles."

UK Border Force officers voted 'yes' to strike across 140 ports and airports in the UK. This could see military personnel sent to larger travel hubs such as Heathrow and Gatwick airports to tighten security and prevent major delays.

Union bosses have said that they may increase strikes leading up to the busy Christmas holiday season, which is likely to cause major disruption and extended waits to get through security and passport control.

The confirmation from the MOD came after Labour's John Healey asked in a written question "whether any Military Aid to Civilian Authorities (MACA) requests have been submitted to his department by the Home Office on the use of Armed Forces personnel to work at ports and airports during the planned period of industrial action by Border Force staff".