British Airways staff set to work for free during recession

Nearly 1,000 British Airways (BA) employees have volunteered to work for free for up to a month to help the airline cut costs during the recession.

Another 4,000 workers are taking unpaid leave, while 1,400 people have volunteered to work part-time, the airline reported yesterday.

The firm wrote to all 40,000 employees asking them to volunteer for four weeks of unpaid work to help the airline survive the recession earlier this month. Some 800 people accepted the request, which came after the airline initially asked staff to accept a pay freeze, and volunteer for unpaid leave.

Chief executive Willie Walsh said the response to working for nothing was “fantastic”. He added: “This response clearly shows the significant difference individuals can make.”

Walsh announced in May he would work in July for no pay – forgoing £61,000 in salary. His chief financial officer Keith Williams will also go without pay in July.

BA said the move would “help minimise the financial impact on individuals, while helping to immediately save cash for the business”.

BA is still negotiating with unions over a wider package of cost-cutting measures expected to include the loss of 4,000 jobs – one in 10 of the workforce – which has led to fears staff could pursue industrial action later this summer.

The company is also asking staff to consider temporary or permanent part-time work, short-term unpaid leave of up to four weeks, or long-term unpaid leave of between one and 12 months.

BA has already cut more than 2,500 jobs since last summer – 780 of which were management positions.

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