July 15, 2024

Heathrow employees confirm strike action

Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport will strike over a new roster and changes to shift patterns. More than 600 employees will walk out for four days from April 11 to 14.

In a ballot that closed last week, PCS members who carry out immigration controls and passport checks at Heathrow airport voted by 90% to walk out. 

Border Force is imposing a new fixed roster from April 29, which will put all staff into new teams and make it more difficult for officials to swap to different shifts, according to PCS. This will also see all staff move to the annualised hours allowance system (AHA), where employees get an extra allowance in exchange for the employer having control over when hours are worked and having the flexibility to change shifts at short notice.

These changes could see as many as 250 staff forced out of their jobs by the end of April and will particularly affect workers with disabilities or those with caring responsibilities.

PCS General Secretary Fran Heathcote said: “Consultation with staff has been a farce, with our members having little or no choice about the new arrangements. Ripping up flexible working arrangements is no way to treat staff especially, as the government says, their work is critical to our nation’s security.

“Some members are heart-broken that the Border Force has become ‘unprofessional and inhumane’. If the government is serious about border security, it should look at Border Force officers’ job security, look after its staff, scrap the changes and work with us to protect jobs and working conditions.”

A Senior Press Officer for Heathrow Airport responded saying: “As reassurance to passengers, strikes such as this have been managed successfully before and we’ll be working closely with the Home Office on contingency plans.”

A Home Office spokesperson added: “As the public would expect, our priority is to keep our citizens safe and our borders secure.

“We are working closely with Heathrow Airport and have robust plans in place to minimise any delays from planned strike action. We will deploy suitable resources to meet critical demand and support the flow of passengers and goods through our border.”