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BA STAFF AGREE TO WORK FOR FREE

EIGHT HUNDRED British Airways (BA) staff will work for nothing next month, after the struggling airline convinced 7,000 employees, or 17 per cent of its workforce, to take a pay cut.<br /><br />Chief executive Willie Walsh, who earns &pound;735,000 a year, said the staff would save the airline around &pound;10m.<br /><br />Walsh has already agreed to work for free in July, saving the company &pound;60,000.<br /><br />&ldquo;This response clearly shows the significant difference individuals can make,&rdquo; he said, adding that staff will be able to volunteer for the programme later in the year too.<br /><br />About 4,000 workers will take unpaid leave, while 1,400 will work part-time and 800 full-time for free for one to four weeks.<br /><br />Passenger numbers at the airline for the year to 31 March fell by 4.3 per cent.<br /><br />But the GMB union hit out at BA for putting out a statement on pay cuts while it was still in separate talks with the union. &ldquo;I find it disgusting that the company can make the announcement today,&rdquo; Mick Rix, of GMB said yesterday.<br /><br />&ldquo;We are locked into hard negotiations on making significant financial savings but BA seems only interested in making headlines rather than reaching an acceptable deal.&rdquo;<br /><br />The Unite union slammed the plans saying &ldquo;Mr Walsh can afford to work for free but our members cannot.&rdquo;<br /><br />Meanwhile, the carrier agreed a tentative pay-cut deal with pilots&rsquo; union Balpa yesterday in return for shares in the business.<br /><br />Under the plans, pilots will see a 2.61 per cent pay cut &ndash; equal to around &pound;2,000 &ndash; and will slash their flying time by 20 per cent. Up to 78 pilots of BA&rsquo;s 3,200 will lose their jobs as part of the agreement. <br /><br />BA is still seeking to axe 4,000 jobs to save money. It wants 2,000 voluntary redundancies among the 14,000 cabin crew.