Letter sent to Agency making our recommendations to members clear
The following response has been sent to the Agency as it seeks to identify volunteers who are willing to bolster front line Border Force positions. These NCA volunteers are to be deployed during a period of planned industrial action by a number of Border Force staff.
The root cause of the lawful industrial action called on by the PCS which will affect Border Force is poor pay during a cost-of-living crisis. Those who have committed to taking this course of action will have considered long and hard why they need to do so, recognising of course that they will not be paid. Whilst this may be seen to compound the fragility of their personal finances at this time, striking is a course of last resort, when it is believed all other avenues have failed.
Relatively recent changes to legislation affecting any Unions ability to effect industrial action create significant hurdles which are not meant to make striking an easy option for anyone. On this occasion, the PCS have been able to convince sufficient numbers within the relevant workforce groups to vote - and they have, with an overwhelming voice, supported striking.
The Border Force workforce have themselves largely supported strike action which will no doubt have an impact on the UK being able to effectively control its borders. It is therefore hoped, that despite wage increases which sit below rampant inflation – and a loss of pay for any days recorded as strike days, that such action will cause those in Government to reflect on this workforce, their pay and conditions for carrying out this critical role.
Whilst Border Force staff are able to take industrial action regarding what they believe to be an insufficient, below inflation pay award this year, it is worth highlighting that NCA staff in Grades 1-6, have not had any pay award this year. According to the Agency’s own admissions, these officers may not see the 2022 pay award until January 2023.
It seems quite ironic therefore that our members are now being expected to backfill for missing Border Force Staff who have taken the brave decision to reduce their income further – in the hope that they might secure an increase as a result of taking industrial action.
Any support provided by our members will achieve two things,
- Undermining the action and impact of Border Force Staff who have decided to take strike action.
- Undermining our own efforts to secure a pay award whilst we have only recently started our own potential industrial action journey.
Importantly, one thing it will not achieve, is securing a pay award which currently sets NCA staff apart from their Policing and Public sector peers.
At this stage we are pleased that the Agency has not chosen to forcibly move our members to cover striking workers roles in Border Force. However, we remain unable to support the concept of volunteers from within our own membership and will be advising members to reflect long hard on how they would feel if the roles were reversed. i.e., Having made a brave decision of last resort to take industrial action in the NCA, how demoralising would it be to see Border Force staff parachuted in to undermine your efforts to secure better pay?
For the reasons outlined in this letter, we will be advising our members not to volunteer for these roles as requests are made by the Agency.
Simon Boon – NCOA General Secretary