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Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Thursday, 24 November 2011

Mark Serwotka: 'Blind panic' over border strike

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A senior union leader has described as "desperate" government plans to use non-striking civil servants to provide cover at the UK's borders during next week's public sector strike.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, told Today presenter James Naughtie that the government should not attempt to provide cover for border staff.

He also called for the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, to get back round the negotiating table.

"Francis Maude today should say to the unions he wants urgent talks to settle the dispute. And if he doesn't do that then frankly they're going to have to decide how best they make arrangements on the day.

"They've not talked to us about it. But the real question here is the government can't go round for months saying nobody supports the strike; public sector workers, there's too many of them.

"They can't suddenly at the eleventh hour, I think, if they're acting responsibly, act in such a blind panic, and really questions should be asked as to where they've been till now."

The UK Border Agency has told the BBC that security was the top priority and efforts had to be made to "minimise disruption".


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