Briitish Airways reports almost 7,000 staff have volunteered for pay cuts, including 800 who have agreed to work for nothing for up to a month.
BA boss Willie Walsh hailed the response as “fantastic” and said: “This shows the significant difference individuals can make.” However, unions reacted angrily to the request for unpaid work and analysts pointed out the total saving on salaries of £10 million was “not a big number”. The airline reported a £401 million loss for the year to March and forecasts a “significant loss” this year, following a record profit of £922 million in 2007-08.
More than 33,000 BA staff declined to volunteer for a pay cut, but 4,000 have sought unpaid leave and 1,400 will go part-time. BA said it would repeat the process later this year, targeting employees who have not so far volunteered.
Unions have expressed support for the plea for part-time working, unpaid leave and career breaks to mitigate redundancy, but remain angry at the request for unpaid work amid talks on job and pay cuts that Walsh insists must be tied up by June 30.
Unite national officer Steve Turner accused BA of “bullying and harassment”, which he said would not be tolerated. He said: “Workers were sent intimidating emails from senior managers. Turner added: “Less than 2% of the workforce volunteered to work for free.”
BA has reached deals on pay and job cuts with engineers and representatives of pilots’ union Balpa, but has still to reach agreement with cabin crew, baggage handlers and admin staff. There are fears a failure to agree could result in threats of strikes this summer.
The airline’s pilots will vote on whether to accept their union’s recommendation of a pay cut of 2.6% in the next few days.
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