Border Force workers at several major British airports are to launch a series of strikes over Christmas in a dispute over pay, pensions and jobs.

The Public and Commercial Services union announced its members working at Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Cardiff airports and the Port of Newhaven will strike for eight days.

The union's General Secretary Mark Serwotka said around 2,000-3,000 staff would be involved in the walk outs on 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30 and 31 December.

Asked why the union had picked the Christmas period to take industrial action, the union chief said: "those people will lose pay when they go on strike, they do it as a last resort and the job of the union is to ensure that the action that we call is noticed."

Travellers in Britain already face major rail disruption over the Christmas period, with more than 40,000 railway workers due to walk out on 13-14, 16-17, 24-27 December and 3-4 and 6-7 January.

A Heathrow spokesperson said the airport was working with airlines and Border Force on plans to mitigate disruption.

"The Home Office advises that immigration and customs checks may take longer during peak times on strike days, and Heathrow will support Border Force to minimise these impacts with the aim of processing passengers through the border as efficiently as possible," the spokesperson said.

Gatwick said it expected flights to operate as normal and it would also make extra airport staff available to help passengers on strike days.

Earlier, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hit out at "unreasonable" union leaders and warned of "new tough laws" to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British public.

He did not elaborate but appeared to be referring to proposals first put forward in 2019 for a minimum level of service during strikes.

Mr Sunak's spokesman later said work on the plan was taking place "at speed". "We will consider all ways of curbing further action including legislation," he told reporters.

Additional reporting AFP, Reuters