When Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said he would work for free until the company was profitable, he really meant it. In fact, since 2005 he has foregone his salary and bonus payments, which are estimated to be worth somewhere around $25 - $33 million. Bill Jr. could soon be eligible to actually get paid as the Blue Oval is expected to become profitable by the end of next year.

Bill Jr. is still insisting that no payments be made to him until Ford's board can say that the ailing automaker has accomplished its turnaround goal of getting back to profitability. While it’s uncertain whether Ford will in fact make a profit this year, it’s expected that by 2009 the company should be able to legitimately pay Bill Jr. a salary, Reuters reports.

It looks as though Ford CEO Alan Mulally will be able to bring the company back to profitability following the deal he cut with the United Auto Workers Union to cut health care costs and allow companies to hire lower-cost workers. Since signing the deal, Ford has lost a quarter of its North American employees in the bid to return to profitability but still posted a 2.7 billion dollar loss last year. Nevertheless this figure is much more palatable than the 12.6 billion dollars lost in 2006 and indicates that at last Ford is on track to reach profitability.