Tuesday 16 June 2009

Rather than ask 61 of these 30,000 BA staff in the UK who are being asked to work for nothing for a month...

... why doesn't Willie Walsh just work for TWO months for nothing? I'm quite sure he can get by on only £610,000 a year, no?

Sixty of the lowest paid BA employees, let's assume they are paid a grand a month now for the sake of simplicity, being asked to get by on £11,000 rather than £12,000 a year -- now that is a material difference in their ability to get by. That will involve significant hardship.

On what planet does anyone really deserve to be paid £61,000 a month? What could he possibly need to spend that much money on every month? And on top of this salary, you can just bet he gets a non-contributory pension, probably also stock options, and dividends from the stock he already has under his belt. He is just one man and there are plenty of others in the executive earning a pretty penny out of BA too, you can be sure of that. No wonder the company's struggling!

I'm sure last year they were talking of buying up failing competitors. Funny how reality has a habit of catching up on one eventually.

Maybe at this point in the article you're thinking I've gone all socialist now? No, I just don't understand how BA executives, or the executives of any other publicly traded company for that matter, can get away with voting themselves these kind of ridiculous remuneration packages. Why have shareholders not been revolting against this for a long time already? Voted yourselves a ridiculous pay package? Get a shareholder vote of no confidence at the AGM, and it's out on your arse quick-smart.

The people on the ground level in businesses work hard, they are brought in to do a specific job with the promise of a specific (generally modest) salary, and they mostly do it to the best of their ability I'm sure. They are not performance-related positions, and do not get further perks beyond their salary, maybe there is some modest pension contribution if they're lucky.

By contrast, the executive of any business are there to steer the company with an eye on the future and to making changes within the organisation in good time to avert disasters and keep the business in rude health. They should therefore be remunerated on a performance-related basis, atop a basic standard senior-management-level salary to live on month to month. They don't OWN the company, they MANAGE it on behalf of the shareholders. Sure, they should definitely share in the profits that are distributed to the owners, if they have done a sterling job of steering the ship. They certainly should not suck the profit out of the business so that it cannot be distributed to the owners, or better yet kept in reserves for rainy days like these. And certainly not when they are doing so while ignoring the very clear indications about the future of the business and the environment it will operate within. There is no way Willie Wallsh didn't know the airline business was going into tough times the last few years. No way at all. That is, to put it simply, bad management.

I'm afraid... Willie, with no regret... you're fired. (If BA shareholders had any sense, they would tell you that anyway.)

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