Heathrow Border Force members balloted for strike action

Interior view of Heathrow Airport terminal.
Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport

PCS members working for the Border Force at Heathrow Airport face potential strike action amid a dispute regarding shift patterns and working conditions.

The looming threat of strike action, particularly during the Easter holidays, naturally raises concerns.

At a peak travel period it risks possible disruptions and long queues at what is the UK’s busiest airport.

Border Force Members Balloted

Heathrow Airport could face significant disruption during the coming Easter holidays. Over 600 Border Force officers are now set to vote on strike action.

The ballot, open from March 1st to March 22nd, comes amidst a dispute between the staff and the Border Force.

The matter revolves around proposed changes to working conditions, including shift patterns and potential pay cuts.

A Border Force officer stands in the Heathrow Airport terminal.
Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are concerned about the implementation of a new “Team Working Fixed Roster”.

As it stands, this will come into effect starting April 29th. This new roster has caused significant worry among staff.

It brings with it the potential removal of existing flexible working arrangements and reasonable adjustments.

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‘Fire and Re-hire’ Tactics Employed

PCS General Secretary Fran Heathcote has strongly condemned the use of “fire and rehire” tactics by the Border Force. This has involved terminating existing contracts and offering re-employment under potentially less favorable terms.

She has urged the government, as the employer, to act and avoid such practices.

She stated: “The government should set the standard as an employer, not resort to this shameful and thoroughly discredited tactic”.

Passengers in Heathrow Airport terminal 5a
Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport.

The proposed changes have also led to a surge in new PCS memberships at Heathrow, highlighting the widespread concern among staff.

With negotiations stalled, the union is urging members to vote in favor of strike action or “action short of a strike” as a means to pressure the employer to withdraw the proposed changes.

Fran Heathcote emphasizes that the strike can be avoided if the Border Force withdraws its “draconian plans” and engages in meaningful dialogue.

She believes such drastic measures are an unacceptable way to treat “long-serving, dedicated staff.”

Easter at Heathrow

The Easter period is typically a busy time at Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world.

Easter coincides with school holidays in the UK, making it a popular time for families to travel. This typically leads to a significant increase in passenger numbers at Heathrow, with long queues expected at security and check-in.

The potential strike action at Heathrow during Easter could cause further significant delays for travellers.

Heathrow Border Force officers secure the UK’s borders by checking passports, preventing illegal immigration, and stopping the smuggling of contraband.

They work during peak seasons like Easter, which can see increased passenger numbers and potential disruptions.

The current dispute involves concerns over proposed changes to working conditions, potentially impacting services at the airport.

If it proceeds, the action seeks to address the ongoing challenges faced by workers and employers in the current economic climate.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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