Heathrow faces the threat of pre-Christmas strike action in a row over controversial ‘fire and rehire’ plans affecting 4,000 workers.

The Unite union plans a series of walkouts from December 2 after members voted 85% in favour of industrial action.

A further one-day stoppage is due on December 14 followed by a 48-hour strike on December 17 and 18.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King claimed: “The airport is using the Covid-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to permanently cut workers’ pay.”

He added: “Workers are taking strike action as a direct result of Heathrow airport’s brutal proposals to fire and rehire them on greatly reduced wages.

“Unite has put forward several alternative suggestions to reduce staffing costs on a temporary basis, all of which have been summarily rejected by management.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “It’s very disappointing that Unite has decided to take strike action during the worst crisis to hit the aviation sector. We will now activate extensive contingency plans which will keep the airport open and operating safely throughout this period.”