Heathrow passengers face even longer passport queues as staff vote to strike

PASSENGERS travelling through Heathrow Airport may face even longer queues at passport control as Border Force staff have voted to go on strike.

Long queues have already caused chaos at the airport due to new travel restrictions which include negative coronavirus tests and Passenger Locator Forms, which take longer to process.

Many passengers claimed they had to wait more than an hour to get through passport control.

The Public and Commercial Services Union, who represent Border Force staff, are to strike due to changes to their shift patterns, which mean they would be able to trade shifts with other staff, as well as request certain days to work.

The union balloted members with 96 per cent of those who voted in favour of strike action. 

The new rules have introduced a fixed rota which would prevent both of these.

A union spokesperson told the Mail Online: "Many are worried for their future work prospects in Border Force if there is no flexibility in shift allocation."

Official dates of the strike are yet to be announced.

However, the Home Office has said that the new rules are being enforced to prevent mixing of staff, which could put risk the spread of coronavirus.

A spokesperson said: 'These temporary changes involve Border Force officers working in bubbles to protect themselves and the public from coronavirus."

Earlier this month, some passengers claimed staff were forced to hand out water at Heathrow Airport due to the conditions of the long queues, although this then meant people removing their masks.

WHO development consultant Alvaro Garbayo, who was trying to travel through the airport, wrote on Twitter: "Border control at Heathrow a complete mess, a crowd queuing for more than one hour with not enough space to keep safe distance.

"Just making sure we all get infected before entering UK? Proactively pushing for herd immunity?

Sky's Adam Boulton tweeted: "So that’s one hour waiting in the LHR T5 Border queue and I’m only halfway there and was early off the plane.

"People still being held in the corridor. Only 3 officials on."

However, a Border Official spokesperson said that there were "necessary staff" in place to check the relevant documents of arrivals.

It isn't the first strike at Heathrow Airport in recent weeks – baggage handlers, airside staff and security staff also went on strike in December, with more than 4,000 staff walking out.

The strikes, which took place on December 1, December 14 and on December 17 and December 18, were due to new contracts which the union warned would force pay cuts up to 20 per cent.

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