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BA asks staff to sacrifice a week's pay -

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BA asks staff to sacrifice a week's pay

The World Today - Wednesday, 17 June , 2009 12:34:00

Reporter: Stephanie Kennedy

PETER CAVE: Would you give up a month's pay or even a week's pay if it meant you could keep your
job and save your company?

Well that's what British Airways has asked of its 40,000 strong workforce.

BA is calling for volunteers to work for nothing to help the airline survive during the worldwide

Stephanie Kennedy reports from London.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: British Airways is haemorrhaging cash at a rate of $6-million a day.

Last month BA announced the company's biggest losses since the airline was privatised in 1987.

Hit by a weak pound and a $6-billion fuel bill, BA reported a loss before tax of 401-million
pounds, around $AUD800-million. That compares with a $1.8-billion profit the year before.

To cut costs, BA is slashing its workforce by 4,000 and in a bid to avoid further job losses, the
airline has now asked its staff to work for free for between one and four weeks.

BA's chief executive Willie Walsh is leading by example. He's foregoing his monthly pay packet
worth $120,000 for four weeks in July and he's asking others to follow his lead.

WILLIE WALSH: There's great pride in British Airways and I think when you look at the people who
work at BA, they are the experts. They understand what this industry is facing and they know what
needs to be done and I'm confident that they will do it.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: In a staff newsletter Mr Walsh says the company is facing a fight for survival,
adding these are the toughest trading conditions BA has ever seen.

Other big companies in the UK have also offered their workers similar deals. Jim McInally is with
British Telecom.

JIM MCINALLY: Our employees tell us that job security is their number one concern, but we have
special sabbatical arrangements. BT has for a very long-time been a leading proponent of flexible
working. We have over 10,000 people working from home in the UK and they can vary their hours,
through the use of broadband.

We have got reduced hours programs, we have term time working programs where people can spread
their earnings over the year.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Cary Cooper is a Professor of Psychology and Health at Lancaster University and
he believes including staff in the decision making process over cost saving plans is critical.

CARY COOPER: In a recession it's about "Dunkirk spirit", it's about getting everybody together
because what tends to happen in a recession, if senior management impose solutions, you get very
self-protective behaviour after the first tranche of redundancies and people start protecting
information, they don't work as a team and in fact it becomes counterproductive.

So looking at the variety of different options, they understand the scenario, they understand that
this is a worldwide recession, they are trying to find solutions. The vast majority of people want
security even if their salary is slightly reduced and they're only working four day weeks so they
have to take sabbaticals or they have to do training or whatever. They would like a say in deciding
on what options to take.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: The UK's biggest union Unite has slammed the BA offer, arguing while Willie
Walsh can afford to work for nothing, its members can't.

In London this is Stephanie Kennedy reporting for The World Today.