Airport Military (Picture: Alamy).
Personnel covered for striking Border Force staff at ports and airports (Picture: Alamy).

Personnel that covered Border Force strikes remain on standby for any further industrial action

Airport Military (Picture: Alamy).
Personnel covered for striking Border Force staff at ports and airports (Picture: Alamy).

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the hundreds of personnel assigned to cover recent Border Force strikes remain on standby to cover any further industrial action.

About 625 military personnel were deployed to cover the strikes in December, which were part of a rolling programme of industrial action by members of the PCS union in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs, pensions and conditions.

A request for Military Aid to Civil Authorities (Maca) was approved in December, paving the way for military personnel to be drafted in to provide cover.

The military has been praised for the cover, with media reports suggesting that passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick airports had applauded the "brilliant" military for doing their job with "record" efficiency.

It came after fears there would be chaos at airports and ports when Border Force staff went on strike, but the evidence on the ground showed a different picture.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said last week that overall the UK was "not seeing any disruption" to people's travel.

Mr Wallace, speaking during a visit to Manchester Airport, said it is "a good thing" that people can continue to travel thanks to the military's assistance.

"The simple reality is our borders are safe and secure," he said, countering claims that military personnel had been simply waving people through.

Watch: UK airports "not seeing any disruption" with military covering for striking workers, Defence Secretary says.

The head of the UK Armed Forces was told of "very complimentary feedback" for military personnel covering striking Border Force workers at airports across the country.

Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said on Twitter he was "pleased to meet Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel at Gatwick".

The military's role in covering the strikes had initially provoked differing opinions, with the head of the UK Armed Forces saying personnel should not be used as the "ultimate backstop" to cover striking public sector workers over the Christmas period.

Additionally, the head of the British Army told Forces News covering public service strikes means troops are not doing the "day job" and it sees skills "running down".

Conservative back-bencher Jacob Rees-Mogg MP argued the job of the military is to "do what they're told by the civilian authorities".

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