Military personnel stood in for passport control staff at UK airports on Friday as Border Force officers walked out in an escalating wave of public sector strikes over pay. Around a quarter of a million passengers were due to arrive at the six affected airports on Friday ahead of the busy Christmas holiday weekend. But while passengers were warned they may face delays, Gatwick and Heathrow both insisted their immigration halls were operating as normal on Friday after the government drafted in armed forces’ personnel and civil servants. Around 1,000 workers at Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester, and the southern port of Newhaven, took part in the stoppage organised by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS). It is the first of eight planned between Friday and January 1, taking place every day for the rest of the year, except December 27. It follows stoppages this week by nurses and ambulance workers, angered by the government’s refusal to increase pay following years of wage stagnation and a cost-of-living crisis that has left inflation running at nearly 11 percent. Nurses will strike again on January 18 and 19, the Royal College of Nursing announced on Friday. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said many Border Force employees were struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. “Forty thousand of our members are using food banks, 45,000 of them are claiming in-work benefits. They are the in-work poor,” he told BBC radio, adding that the dispute was also about pensions and job security.