Activists leafleted the public with information on Qatar Airway’s treatment of its employees, including sacking workers for minor offences and keeping them under constant surveillance. The first flights are scheduled to arrive at 6pm this evening. The union is demanding that the Government ensures all airlines operating in Australia abide by labour and human rights standards.
“Flight crew are flying into Sydney today who are not afforded the same rights or protections as employees here in Australia and who are subject to the most appalling treatment. Qatar Airways has been found guilty by the United Nations body, the International Labor Organization, of sacking women employees when they become pregnant,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“ ‘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. It is now up to the Government to ensure Australian standards are upheld for all employees working here,” he said.
Qatar Airways, is doubling its flights into Australia, with new routes to Sydney and Adelaide. The airline has an alliance with Qantas, which was taken to federal court by the Fair Work Ombudsman in 2013 over exploitation of Thai flight attendants on Jetstar routes.
One worker told the International Transport Workers’ Federation, which has been campaigning on the issue, about conditions for women: “A colleague and friend of mine had an abortion because she was afraid of losing her job. When even someone just suspects that you might be pregnant, you’re out.”
At Qatar Airways:
- Employees deemed to be using too much hair gel, wearing their hat wrongly or having a tattoo can be terminated.
- Employees are kept under constant surveillance including searching accommodation while crew members are on a flight and monitoring mandatory 12-hour resting rule before work.
- 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 which stops them reporting abuses, even after they leave.
- In June 2015 UN body the International Labor Organization demanded that Qatar Airways scrap contracts allowing it to sack women employees when they become pregnant. The ITF, which the TWU is affiliated to, has said there is no evidence Qatar Airways has stopped the practice.
“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.
Australian Tax Office data released recently shows Qatar Airways paid no tax on $389 million revenue in 2013-2014.