Warning of long queues at Heathrow after Easter with Border Force strike threat

A warning over the potential for travel disruption at Heathrow at the end of the Easter holiday period has come as Border Force officers are balloted for strike action.

More than 600 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) working at the London hub are to take part in the ballot in a dispute with government over shift patterns and working conditions.

In a ballot that and runs until noon on March 22 – the week before Good Friday –they will be asked if they are prepared to take industrial action over the threat of Home Office proposals to remove members’ legacy terms and conditions, reasonable adjustments and flexible working arrangements.

No strike could take place until April 5 at the earliest under laws regulating trade unions but any walkouts could affect travellers passing through passport control on their return to the UK from Easter school holiday breaks. 

A new fixed working roster is also being sought by the Border Force employer to be in force from April 29, while the union claimed that  “fire and rehire” tactics may also be used to threaten staff.

The PCS said: “Border Force officers based at Heathrow airport are to be balloted for strike action, which could take place during the Easter holidays, potentially causing long queues at the UK’s largest airport.

“As the Home Office has refused to withdraw its proposals or to amend the new roster in any meaningful way, members are being encouraged to vote for take strike action and action short of a strike.”

The union claimed that “hundreds” of new members have joined in recent weeks as a direct result of the proposed changes.

PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said that “the employer can avoid strike action by withdrawing” these “draconian plans”, which she described as “an appalling way to treat long-serving, dedicated staff”.

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