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British Airways asks 40,000 staff for free hours

In a sign of the times, British Airways has been in contact with its 40,000 work force asking them to work up to one month a year without pay in order to cut the substantial cost base of the group. The company recorded a £400 million loss in 2008 and with the price of oil set to increase and no significant improvement in passenger numbers the next few months could be critical to the future of British Airways. While there is no suggestion that the company is in any way in danger of going under there is no doubt that debts are moving higher and higher.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, has already agreed to work for free in July in what he calls the "fight for survival". There is some concern that those employees who volunteer for unpaid work will somehow receive a beneficial review if, as expected, there are substantial redundancies in the short to medium term. While the company has refuted the allegation, and has agreed that any unpaid work will be deducted from salaries over a number of months, there are still great concerns within the British Airways workforce.

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