BA staff working for nothingJune 17, 2009
Those following the difficulties facing British Airways will be aware that staff have been offered various ways that they can help out – part-time work, unpaid leave and working a month for nothing. This is clearly an unusual move and I feel for the board, passengers and – most of all – the staff of the stricken company.
I’m also in sympathy with those pointing out that chief executive, Willie Walsh, can probably more easily afford to hand backhis £61,000 pay cheque for July than most cabin staff, earning less than a third of that a year.
The Guardian editorial makes the point which made me think deeper though. Many dozens of employees have agreed to this cut and the Guardian asks whether this is through loyalty to the company or fear of the jobs, concluding that it must be the latter – I wonder, could it possibly be both? Surely they are not mutually exclusive?
Who is “the company”? My sister-in-law worked for a part of BA and really enjoyed it (she has since had a less than successful stint at another airline – let’s say the tangerine coloured and not hard one) For her the BA was her colleagues, the network of people she had shared a lot of time with over the years of long hours and being away from her home and loved ones. She would have signed up to support those people.
Can we never ask/be asked for loyalty by our employees? I think that work and the people who pay for us for it present us all with an opportunity for development, satisfaction, identity and enjoyment. If we conclude that folk will never forgo money for their employer we are signing up to the idea that work is just about wealth creation I think that we are all doomed to only live for our holidays….
Now people who know better than me say that BA have a stinking industrial relations record and I fully agree that it sounds like a dodgy deal. I’m just uncomfortable with the old me versus the bosses kind of thinking.
I wish them well.