What entrepreneurs think of Willie Walsh

“It’s a single throw of the dice – and it may be very hard to follow up on,” comments Stephen Archer, partner at business consultancy, Spring Partnerships. “What happens when the losses are even worse in six months’ time? How many employees will thank the airline for trying to save their jobs by not paying them when there is no declared longer-term plan to change the business? The debt the airline will have to employees will, in the longer run, be far greater than the value of the month’s salary cut. This move reeks of panic.”

Stephen Bentley, chief executive of Granby Marketing Services, reckons Walsh has made an idiotic move with the gesture of sacrificing his £743,000 salary. “This won’t engage the staff. If anything, it will infuriate them,” he says. “Walsh can’t even promise that this will rectify BA’s situation. Even after cutting pay for a month, the likelihood is that BA will still have to make redundancies off the back of it."

When his own company hit difficult times, Bentley gave his staff the opportunity to take unpaid leave. “The people that needed the regular income stayed, and those that wanted some extra time off took the leave,” he explains. “I can’t understand the logic of asking staff that have been loyal to your business to work for nothing.”  “Before BA takes these drastic steps, it may be easier for the company to look at efficiency improvements first – and that’s not a euphemism for job cuts,” comments Brett Raynes, managing director of Backup Direct. “A collective tightening of belts, rather than drastic wage cuts, may give BA much less of a headache than dealing with a disgruntled and disillusioned workforce.” According to personnel professional David Readman, this has “all been done from the hip and will cause enormous loss of trust in Willie Walsh and his position as head of one of Britain’s biggest enterprises.”

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