Unite says that Heathrow workers will stage a “huge car protest” at the airport this morning, as part of a dispute over “massive wage cuts that the company is imposing on them through a controversial fire and rehire policy”.

According to ITV around 4,000 workers are set to strike this week, covering roles including firefighters, engineers, campus security, baggage operations, central terminal operations and landside and airside operations.

Unite said that members will stage “a huge car-based rally, while also maintaining socially distanced picket lines around Heathrow”.

Today’s strike will be followed by further industrial action on Thursday December 17 and Friday December 18.

The union said that 84 per cent of members had voted in favour of strike action, as a result of Heathrow Airport Limited’s (HAL) “decision to fire and rehire its 4,000 employees on vastly inferior contracts”, a move which Unite says will result in workers facing permanent pay cuts of up to 25 per cent of their pay, equivalent to £8,000 per year.

Commenting on the strike action, Unite’s regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said:

“Workers will be ramping up strike action this week as HAL has refused to withdraw its decision to brutally fire and rehire its loyal staff.

“The airports success was built on its workforce, who have continued to ensure it operates throughout the pandemic, on occasion risking their health.

“HAL has repaid them by conducting the most brutal fire and rehire operation ever seen in the UK.

“HAL would rather pay millions on arranging for contingencies during the strike then agree a fair deal for its loyal workforce,

“HAL is using Covid as cover to force through long-held plans to cuts workers’ pay. This is about greed not need. If this was related to the pandemic, HAL would be looking for temporary pay cuts.”

Heathrow has posted the following statement on its website:

“We are disappointed that Unite has decided to take strike action during the worst crisis to hit the aviation sector.

“Unite the trade union plans to take industrial strike action at Heathrow on Monday December 14.

“Further industrial action is planned for Thursday December 17 and Friday December 18.

“Whilst we do not expect any changes to flight schedules, we recommend that passengers flying on those days contact their airline ahead of travel to check the status of their flight.”

Last week Heathrow announced plans to keep its Terminal 4 shut until the end of 2021, as a result of “a continued decline in passengers”.

Heathrow T4 to stay closed until end of 2021