by RAY FLEMING
THE suspicion that many of Britain's bosses live in world of their own must have been hardened somewhat by the invitation of Willie Walsh, British Airways' chief executive, to his staff to volunteer to work for nothing or to take unpaid leave. Mr Walsh may think he has set an example by agreeing to forego his July salary but the reality is that while he earns 735'000 pounds a year the average annual BA cabin staff salary is 29'900 pounds. Although it's true that everyone tends to spend what they earn Mr Walsh will surely find it easier to scrimp and save than his staff. BA claims that over one thousand of its 40'000 staff have volunteered either for unpaid work or unpaid leave but this apparent show of the BA spirit may have more to do with the suspicion that such loyalty to the airline will not go unnoticed when the anticipated compulsory cut of 4'000 jobs takes effect later this year. Obviously BA is in trouble. It recently announced pre-tax losses of 401 million pounds in 2008, its biggest in twenty-five years. Passenger numbers for the year to March fell by 4.3 million and the normally lucrative first class business has shrunk severely and has been abandoned on some services. Clearly, economies are necessary and Mr Walsh will need the understanding of his staff to implement them but his misjudged invitation will not help him to get this.

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