Strike Action Sweeping Heathrow

PCS Border Force strikers at Heathrow Airport yesterday morning

HUNDREDS of Border Force workers at Heathrow Airport began four days of strike action yesterday against Tory attacks on their working conditions.

The more than 300 Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union members working in terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5 walked out from 5am and are striking until 7am on May 3rd.
They are taking action against plans to impose new rosters that would see around 250 of them forced out of their jobs at passport control.
PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said: ‘It’s disappointing that despite talks last week, the Home Office is not prepared to grant any flexibility to their new roster.
‘None of our dedicated and highly experienced members in the Border Force want to take strike action but the way they’ve been treated by their employer leaves them with no option.
‘Our members are angry and disappointed at being forced out of their jobs.
‘While not everyone will be affected, the changes will disproportionately hit those who are disabled or have caring responsibilities.
‘The Home Office should be doing all it can to retain experienced, trained staff – not lose them by introducing an unworkable new roster system.’
Meanwhile, around 50 refuellers working at the airport are also set to strike on the following days:

  • Saturday 4th May
  • Sunday 5th May
  • Monday 6th May (bank holiday).

The Unite union says it expects the strikes by its members to lead to severe disruption for passengers over the bank holiday.
The workers’ employer, aviation fuel firm AFS, imposed cuts to terms and conditions of new staff recruited since January 2024, including offering them reduced pension and sickness benefits.
Furthermore, Unite members in the following departments at Heathrow are set to take part in a week of strike action in May:

  • Passenger services – who assist travellers to catch connecting flights;
  • Trolley operations;
  • Campus security – the security guards who are responsible for all workers at Heathrow and vehicles being checked before entering Heathrow;
  • Firefighters;
  • Airside operations.

The walkouts will take place on Tuesday 7th May-Monday 13 May.
Unite says the strike action ‘will inevitably cause widespread disruption across the airport, leading to delays and disruption.’
It says the airport has announced the work of passenger services, trolley operations and campus security is set to be outsourced by 1st June in a ‘cost-cutting exercise’ that Heathrow has stated will save it £40m.
‘This cost reduction will lead to a substantial reduction in the number of workers, which raises serious security concerns, given the safety critical nature of much of the work undertaken,’ Unite says.
Its firefighters and airside operation members are also striking because they fear they ‘may be next in line’ to have their work outsourced.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Heathrow Airport’s actions are deplorable. It is raking in massive profits for the bosses while trying to squeeze every last penny out of its workforce.
‘Unite is fully focused on defending its members’ jobs, pay and conditions and our members at Heathrow will receive the union’s unrelenting support during this dispute.’