London Olympic security strikes add to woes


A member of the Canadian Olympic badminton team arrives at Heathrow airport in London on July 17, 2012 as officials and athletes arrive in the capital for the London 2012 Olympic Games that start on July 27.


Will Oliver

Olympic security concerns took another hit today when border guards at British airports said they would walk off the job a day before the London Summer Games begin on July 27.

Public and Commercial Services Union workers voted for a 24-hour strike as they fight over salary and job losses, The Associated Press reported.

Alongside the strike, union members – the inspectors at the ends of those long passport lines – said they would also work-to-rule and refuse to work overtime.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called the union tactic into question.

During a trip to Afghanistan to visit troops, he suggested the 20 percent voter turnout for the strike shows weak strike support.

Of the members who did turn out, 57 percent voted in favor.

“I do not think it would be right, I do not think it would be justifiable,” Cameron said, according to the Daily Mail.

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The Games begin on July 27.

Already, long lineups have been an issue as thousands of athletes, spectators and staff begin to arrive.

There are also questions about security after a contractor admitted his company couldn’t meet hiring quotas for venue security.

To cover gaps, the British armed forces assigned about 3,500 additional members to Olympic security posts.

The union – with members in the UK Border Agency, Identity and Passport Service and Criminal Records Bureau – said government cutbacks are to blame for the job action.

“The lives of staff have been made intolerable by these cuts and they're at breaking point,” union spokesman Mark Serwotka told the BBC. “Ministers have known about these issues for a very long time and need to act now to sort out the chaos they have caused.”

The border guards strike comes on the heels of another announcment.

Train engineers have also threatened to walk off the job for three days during the Games.

East Midlands Trains drivers said they would strike Aug. 6 to 8 to resolve a pension dispute.