Heathrow is being urged to halt “fire and re-hire” proposals affecting thousands of workers following chancellor’s Job Support Scheme announcement.

The Unite union claims more than 4,000 workers directly employed by the airport could be sacked and then rehired on inferior contracts.

The airport told unions earlier in the month that it will seek pay cuts for because of the dramatic collapse in air travel amid the pandemic.

Heathrow announced a 45-day formal consultation with unions, serving them with a document known as a Section 188 notice under trade union law.

The staff, including security officers, engineers and fire-fighters, face losing more than £8,000 a year and up to 24% of their incomes.

Unite has put forward its own proposals of how money can be saved at the airport without permanent cuts to workers’ pay.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “Heathrow airport has a moral duty to halt its plans to fire and rehire thousands of loyal and dedicated workers.

“With the announcement of the chancellor’s Job Support Scheme, the cliff edge of the ending of the job retention scheme has been avoided.

“The section 188 notices should be immediately withdrawn.

“The ball is now firmly in Heathrow’s court and their actions in the coming days will speak volumes.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said at the start of September: “We have now started a period of formal consultation with our unions on our offer, which still guarantees a job at the airport for anyone who wishes to stay with our business.

“With air travel showing little sign of recovery, these discussions cannot go on indefinitely and we must act now to prevent our situation from worsening.”