Tuesday, June 16, 2009

British Airways asks staff to volunteer for unpaid leave or unpaid work

British AirwaysAbout a month ago, British Airways (BA) reported a record annual loss of £401 million. Now the airline's CEO, Willie Walsh -- claiming that BA "is in a fight for survival" -- is asking more than 40,000 employees to volunteer by the end of this month for unpaid leave or unpaid work for periods of one week to one month.

In order to set an example, Mr. Walsh has said he will work for free for the month of July, forgoing his usual monthly salary of £61,000. The Financial Times reports that Keith Williams, chief financial officer at British Airways, also has volunteered to waive his hefty salary for July.

Union officials representing several work groups at British Airways were quick to point out that most of their members earned between £13,000 and £18,000 a year.

From the Financial Times article:
Mick Rix, national officer for civil aviation at the GMB, said his members could not take the proposal seriously.

"Most workers may consider this request if and when the company's executives take permanent and radical action to reduce their own remuneration packages," he said

Unite, BA's biggest union, said: "Willie Walsh can afford to work a month for free. Our members can't."
A Times Online article about the work-for-free scheme quoted a flight attendant who said, "We are treating it like a joke. It’s all very well for Willie Walsh, but my basic is £11,000 a year."