Heathrow Airport: Weekend of disruption feared as Border Force officers strike

Three-day walkout could result in delays to passenger journeys at London airport

Queues at UK Border control at Heathrow Airport in May, due to a glitch with the electronic gate system. Getty Images
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London's Heathrow Airport has said it is working to minimise disruption to passenger journeys ahead of a three-day strike by Border Force staff.

Officers will walk out from Friday potentially resulting in delays. Previous strikes led to huge queues and delays for passengers.

Public and Commercial Services union staff in terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5 will strike from May 31 to June 2, as they continue their protest over changes to working conditions.

Border Force workers, who are employed by the Home Office, not Heathrow Airport, will also refuse to work overtime for three weeks from June 4.

“Border Force officers at Heathrow are due to strike from Friday, 31 May, to Sunday, 2 June,” said a Heathrow Airport post on X.

“We are working with Border Force to strengthen their contingency plans to minimise impact to passengers’ journeys.

“We ask that passengers use the self-service eGates if eligible, to reduce time at the border.”

More than 300 Border Force officers who are PCS members went out on strike for four days from April 29 at Terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5. This caused longer queues and delays at passport control.

Staff are taking action over a new fixed roster, which will make it harder for them to swap shifts.

The changes will see staff swapped to a system where they will receive extra allowance in exchange for their employer having more control over their shift patterns, said Civil Service World magazine.

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Under the previous system, officials could not be forced to work overtime. They could also choose to work shorter shifts across five days, rather than over a standard four-day week.

PCS has called the proposed changes “unworkable”, claiming these will have a “detrimental effect on all the current staff and leave nearly 250 without a job on passport control, including many with disabilities or caring responsibilities”.

Around 18.5 million passengers used Heathrow in the first three months of the year – a 9.5 per cent increase, during what is usually a quieter time of year.

The increase was in part been the result of a 40 per cent surge in demand for business travel between London and destinations in India, North America and East Asia, said officials.

Updated: May 30, 2024, 11:23 AM