Cabin crew union Unite has reacted angrily to news that British Airways has awarded seven senior executives windfall share options worth almost £3 million despite the on-going strike troubles.
The awards under BA’s Performance Share Plan for senior executives were for shares worth £2.50 each on 19 March. The executives will be allowed to exercise their options only if performance targets are met.
Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite said: “It beggars belief that on the very day Unite was working furiously to avert strikes and negotiate a settlement, BA’s boardroom were more concerned with finalising their bonanza.
“Cabin crew aren’t luxuriating in share windfalls – they’re too busy fighting to save their livelihoods.”
The executives cannot cash in the shares for three years but if their value increases, the directors stand to make a lucrative profit.
The airline is facing the threat of more strike action this month. It has already spent about £60 million trying to minimise the disruption to passengers caused by the dispute involving cabin crew, who are protesting about pay and job cuts.
The controversy over executive pay is expected to deepen this week when annual reports revealing directors’ pay packages are published.
BA’s chief financial officer, Keith Williams, was awarded share options worth £812,807, on top of his £440,000 basic salary.
Two of the executives who have helped to represent BA during negotiations with Unite were on the list. Tony McCarthy, director of people and organisational effectiveness, received options worth £461,822; Drusilla Maizey, acting customer director, got options worth £266,380 on March 19.
Willie Walsh, BA’s chief executive, has not received a bonus for the past three years.
A BA spokeswoman said: “Under the Performance Share Plan, our directors are granted a provisional number of shares that they will receive in three years’ time only if certain performance criteria targets are achieved.”
“This plan is in line with most FTSE- 100 companies and ensures that we are able to attract the best candidates and remain competitive.”