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Sacked for wearing hair gel — harsh treatment clouds new airline

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By the Working Life Team

Wednesday, 02 March 2016

CONTROVERSIAL Qatar Airways is now operating flights to Australia despite protests over its harsh treatment of employees.

The airline is attracting strong criticism from unions and human rights organisations over its poor track record with its staff, including sacking workers for being pregnant, and keeping employees under constant surveillance.

 

sheldon

 

Transport Workers’ Union National Secretary Tony Sheldon was handing out information leaflets at Sydney airport this week calling for a boycott.

“Open skies policies allowing foreign airlines greater access to Australian routes are importing a culture of abuse and exploitation and threatening living standards for aviation workers,” he told Working Life.

“The Government must ensure Australian standards are upheld for employees working here.”

Qatar Airways — allied  with Qantas — is doubling its flights into Australia this month, with new routes to Sydney and Adelaide.

Rules at the airline include:

  • Workers using  too much hair gel, wearing their hat incorrectly or having a tattoo can be terminated.
  • Employees are kept under constant surveillance including accommodation searches.
  • Female staff cannot be dropped off or picked up from company premises by a man other than their father, brother or husband.
  • Employees are prohibited from joining a union and are forced to sign a confidentiality agreement prohibiting them from reporting abuses, even after they leave.

Meanwhile, last June 2015 the International Labor Organisation (ILO) demanded Qatar Airways scrap contracts allowing it to sack women employees when they become pregnant, but there is no evidence the practice has been stopped.

“Crew who work for Qatar Airways have no voice because they aren’t allowed to organise and they are put in a position where they are scared to speak up about their experiences of working for the airline,” said Gabriel Mocho, secretary of the ITF civil aviation section.

As well as poor employment practices, the airline shows no sign of being a responsible corporate citizen. Qatar Airways paid no tax on $389 million revenue in 2013-2014, Australian Tax Office data reveals.

Working Life is a forum to share ideas and opinions about work and life, both light-hearted and serious. The opinions presented on Working Life are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent policies or views of the ACTU.

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