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Border Force Dispute: Heathrow

Volume 691: debated on Monday 22 March 2021

What steps she is taking to resolve her Department's industrial dispute with Border Force staff at Heathrow Airport. (913710)

The strike at Heathrow is over temporary arrangements that are designed to keep staff safe during coronavirus. There has been a large number of discussions between Border Force and the union, but I am frankly astonished that the trade union is striking over measures designed to protect the health and safety of its own members.

I am not surprised that the Minister is astonished, but as we all remember, Border Force staff have been on the frontline during the pandemic, and have played a pivotal role in keeping the country covid-secure. The imposition of a new roster at Heathrow airport is creating chaos. It is making staff feel less safe, as there are unavoidable covid-19 breaches; and as the Minister mentioned, there has been a 96% positive ballot result. The staff are set to walk out next week, at a time when the airport’s own workers are striking over the shameful fire and rehire abuses. Will the Home Secretary intervene to pause these counterproductive changes and allow proper negotiations to take place with the PCS union before Heathrow airport grinds to a halt over the Easter holidays?

These measures have been introduced on a temporary basis, for just a few months, to protect the health of the Border Force workers, and it is frankly astonishing that the union has decided to go on strike. These measures will cease to apply in July and over 90% of the affected Border Force staff now have rosters that they agree with, so I call on the PCS union to withdraw any proposal to indulge in this completely unnecessary, counterproductive strike against—absurdly—measures that are designed to protect its own members.