It’s a sign of the times when a once-glorious national institution has resort to asking its 40,000 staff to work for free to ensure its survival, but that’s exactly what struggling airline British Airways has done.
In an article in the company’s internal staff newsletter BA news, the company’s chief executive Willie Walsh has asked staff to ‘volunteer’ to work for free for up to four weeks. “I am looking for every single part of the company to take part in some way,” he wrote. “We face a fight for survival. These are the toughest trading conditions we have ever seen and there simply are no green shoots.”
Walsh and his finance director Keith Williams have already pledged to surrender their salaries for the month of July, but, as a piece in The Telegraph has pointed out: they can afford to do it, given their respective salaries of £735,000 and £440,000 a year – but what of the company’s lower-paid staff?
There are fears staff may feel pressured into working voluntarily: the company is said to be planning to make a further 4,000 redundancies and there are reservations those who don’t show ‘team spirit’ could lose their jobs.
A spokesperson for Balpa, the union for British pilots and flight engineers, wasn’t commenting this afternoon but Smarta has a sneaking suspicion the company’s staff were not pleased with the proposals.
“Asking [staff] to work for free, as if BA is some kind of charity, is ridiculous,” raged one commenter on The Guardian’s forums today, while someone on The Times website suggested: “Why not just ask ITV to run them a telethon?”