Holidaymakers face Easter travel chaos with border officials at Heathrow threatening strike

Passengers queuing at Heathrow during the Easter getaway last year. (PA)
Passengers queuing at Heathrow during the Easter getaway last year. (PA)

Travellers during the Easter holidays face transport chaos as border forces officials working at Heathrow consider striking.

Border Force workers angry about planned changes to shift patterns have until March 22 to decide on whether to trigger industrial action.

More than 600 staff who are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union are to be balloted on whether to strike over the Easter holidays.

If the strike goes ahead it is expected to hit travellers flying home from their Easter school holiday break.

Under laws on industrial action April 5 would be the earliest the workers could walk out.

Fran Heathcote, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCSU) general secretary, said: “Our members at Heathrow are united in their opposition to these draconian plans.

“One aspect of the plans would force workers to choose between finding another job or losing their allowances.

"Another would see others having to sign up to new, exhausting shifts or leaving altogether.

“This is an appalling way to treat long-serving, dedicated staff, so it’s no wonder we’ve recruited hundreds of members in recent weeks.”

Heathrow Airport said the border officials worked for the Home Office and the dispute was between them.

The strike threat came as a report found that protections at UK airports are neither “effective nor efficient” as ePassport gates are left unmanned.

Inspectors observed ePassport gates at three London airports in May 2023 – Heathrow Terminal 4, Luton and Stansted, in the report released last week.

They saw operations “hampered” by inconsistent deployment of resources, a lack of basic communication equipment meaning border posts were unmanned while officers signalled managers, badly arranged arrival halls and poor data, the report set out.

Border Force managers at Stansted told inspectors that the amount of casework they undertook had increased 400% since the UK’s departure from the EU.