Home Office staff at UK’s busiest airport to be balloted over strike action

23 Dec 2020

PCS members at Heathrow airport are in dispute over imposed new rosters hitting women and disabled hardest.

Today (24) PCS served notice on the Home Office of our intention to ballot members at Heathrow airport after the employer announced it will impose shift changes with new team working fixed rosters from the 6 January 2021.

For many years staff working on the passport (immigration) control at Heathrow airport have been able to swap and request shifts. This has enabled those with caring responsibilities or disabilities to have some flexibility over their shifts and working patterns to deal with domestic obligations or to manage their medical conditions.

Local management have now called an end to these practices with very limited ability to swap shifts and no duty requests allowed in the new team working fixed rosters. This will prevent people changing shifts, hitting people with caring responsibilities and the disabled hardest.

PCS has raised concerns over equality data being incomplete and the employer’s legal obligations towards staff members with protected characteristics not being adequately addressed.

In a further insult to staff, the employer is using Covid as the excuse for bringing in these changes. Border Force say the roster changes are necessary to reduce contacts between staff, however members believe that management have been planning the changes for some time and are using the pandemic to try to force it through now.

Members have pointed to the fact that management ignored calls from the union early in the pandemic for screens, provision of PPE, temperature checks and other measures to protect staff and customers, particularly on passport control. The Home Office is still refusing to introduce many measures that would be far more effective in stopping the spread of the virus and protecting staff than the employer’s roster changes.

If the Home Office refuses to listen to staff concerns over the new team working fixed rosters then PCS will begin balloting members from 8 January 2021.

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