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More Than 600 Border Force Officers Will Go On Strike at Heathrow Airport For Four Days From April 11

More Than 600 Border Force Officers Will Go On Strike at Heathrow Airport For Four Days From April 11

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More than 600 Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport are expected to take part in four days of highly disruptive strike action, which is set to take place between the 11th and 14th of April, just as tens of thousands of families are returning from their Easter breaks.

The strike is over a new roster and shift patterns, with the Home Office threatening to rip up more favourable terms and conditions for ‘legacy’ immigration officers and end long-established flexible working patterns and reasonable adjustments.

Border Force staff working at Heathrow Airport, who are represented by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), voted 90% in favour of taking part in strike action following a ballot which ended last week.

The union did not say what percentage of its members took part in the ballot but a spokesperson noted that the number of officers who voted ‘yes’ for strike action surpassed a minimum threshold of 40% of eligible voters.

In the UK, unions must provide a minimum of 14 days notice of strike action, which gives the two sides time to reach a deal. At the moment, however, it certainly feels like the PCS union and the Home Office are very far apart.

“Ministers have fourteen days to withdraw these unfair and unnecessary proposals, or our members at Heathrow will take strike action,” slammed PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote.

“Consultation with staff has been a farce, with our members having little or no choice about the new arrangements,” Heathcote continued.

The union fears that as many as 250 immigration officers at Heathrow could lose their jobs as a result of the decision to withdraw flexible working patterns, including for staffers who have disabilities or caring responsibilities.

The strike raises the prospect of travel chaos at Heathrow, although it remains unclear how many staff will actually take part in the strike or whether the Home Office might attempt to impose new Minimum Service Level rules on the union.

In previous walkouts, the Home Office also called in the Army to staff immigration desks during the strike period and many travellers noted that wait times were actually significantly less than what they normally experience when Border Force staff are on duty.

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