The Coalition Government is considering implementing controversial employment laws which would allow them to sack any border staff who go on strike this week, on the eve of the London Olympic Games opening ceremony.
The move was touted by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who revealed yesterday that some ministers were calling for a 'Ronald Reagan' style approach to dealing with strikes.
President Reagan famously fired some 11,000 air traffic control staff after an illegal strike in the States in 1981.
Responding to a question from a BBC Radio Five live presenter on whether strikers should be sacked, Mr Hunt replied: "This is the Ronald Reagan approach and I can tell you amongst ministers there have been ministers who have asked whether we should be doing that."
Chancellor George Osborne also spoke on the matter over the weekend, saying that new laws could be introduced to make it harder for public sector workers to go on strike. One such proposal would increase the legal requirement for support at a strike ballot to 40% of a workforce.
Discussing the issue of manning passport control desks in the event of a walkout, Mr Hunt said that there were other civil servants ready to step in if the need arose.
The strike by the PCS union which represents border control staff is scheduled to begin on Wednesday morning and will run through until Friday morning. The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is on Friday evening, meaning that the strike could impact on those arriving in the UK in time for the ceremony.
Mr Hunt described the strike as "an absolute disgrace".
"We have 600 staff who manage the immigration terminals at Heathrow and 60,000 to 70,000 volunteers who are giving their time over the next six weeks completely free of charge," he said to the BBC.
The head of the PCS union said that there was still time to negotiate a settlement, adding that both sides would now turn to reconciliation service ACAS with the hope of reaching an agreement before Thursday.
Olympics 2012: Striking border guards could be fired (The Telegraph)