Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

BA chief to work for free

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Announcing record losses for the 2008/09 financial year, British Airways chief executive, Willie Walsh, and its finance director, Keith Williams, have declared that they will work for nothing during July.

The company has launched a range of cost-saving work options for staff, including unpaid leave and part-time working; Walsh said that he wanted neither but that, in the interests of making ‘a contribution in recognition of the extremely challenging position we face’, he and Williams would work for nothing during July – essentially, therefore, an 8.3% wage cut in their respective £735,000 and £440,000 basic salaries.

Aside of the implicit gimmickry – it  is indeed a stunt, which fact is rather confirmed by Mr. Walsh’s protestations to the contrary – this not only sets a poor example but could, in extreme circumstances, lead to implicit or explicit pressure on other employees to follow suit, or otherwise to match the ‘contribution’. There are enough bad examples of bad boardroom behaviour as it is, but if Walsh really feels that he’s not worth the agreed salary for the role, he should seek a role elsewhere more in tune with what he feels are his capabilities.

Back in the real world, BALPA, the union for BA pilots, commented that it would be seeking to ‘continue to work with the company to try and find solutions which will mitigate the effects of the economic downturn on our members. In particular, we will be seeking to avoid any compulsory measures.’

BA has lost 2,500 jobs since last summer and commented that it it was in talks with its unions over ‘pay and productivity changes’. There is as yet no word as to whether such talks encompass pay and productivity in the boardoom.


Written by Calvin

22/05/2009 at 3:52 pm

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