British Airways faces the threat of a strike by workers over planned job cuts.

The head of the Unite union warned that it plans to move towards industrial action against the airline “with immediate effect”.

Unite – which represents thousands of BA employees including cabin crew, engineers and maintenance staff – has accused the airline of operating a ‘fire and rehire policy’.

In a letter, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey accused BA chairman and chief executive Alex Cruz of “arrogance” in his dealings with the union.

McCluskey said: “You have now published a timetable to fire and rehire thousands of your workforce on 7 August.

“We will work every hour between now and then to convince you not to do so.

“You can take this letter as our commitment to do that. However, you can also take this as an intention to defend our members by moving towards industrial action with immediate effect”.

BA said in response: “It is disappointing that a company doing everything it can to save jobs is being singled out by Unite for national criticism, when jobs are being lost across the country in every industry.”

It claimed the new contracts make BA competitive with lower-cost airlines.

The carrier insists 40% of cabin crew would get a pay rise, while crew suffering cuts would see their pay drop by 20%.

“If staff accept the changes to the way they work or their terms and conditions, we expect to be able to save more jobs,” the airline said.