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Workers at Heathrow Airport are to take strike action for four days in December against the bosses’ “fire and rehire” plans, cutting pay in the process.

The workers’ union Unite says the action by frontline employees would effectively close London’s main airport for periods in the run-up to Christmas.

4,000 staff have been told to sign new contracts, cutting pay for some by about 20% or up to £8,000. Unite says the airport has large cash reserves.

The strike action, by firefighters, engineers, operations, security and baggage staff, will take place on 1 December, when the new contracts take effect, and then on 14 December and 17 and 18 December.

Unite’s regional coordinating officer Wayne King said: “The airport is using the Covid-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to permanently cut workers’ pay.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, no key worker should be forced to take such deep pay cuts by an employer that claims to have billions in reserves.”