Unions Stand Up for Qatar Airways Flight Attendants at ILO

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) today filed a complaint with International Labour Organization (ILO) against the state of Qatar. The complaint accuses Qatar of allowing its state-owned airline, Qatar Airways, to violate ILO Convention 111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), which Qatar signed in 1976.

The ITF and ITUC complaint accuses Qatar Airways of workplace sex discrimination and restricting women’s rights, and alleges that the Qatari government is in breach of international obligations by turning a blind eye to these offenses.

“It’s high time that Qatari officials address the discriminatory treatment of female flight attendants at Qatar Airways,” said IAM General Vice President and ITF Executive Committee member Sito Pantoja. “The IAM, ITF and ITUC will continue this fight until justice is served.”

Both the ITF and ITUC have provided evidence that female flight attendants face gender-based discrimination, such as a contractual marriage bar for the first five years of service, compulsory pregnancy reporting and a provision allowing the airline to terminate flight attendants for reporting such pregnancies. The complaint also alleges that the government of Qatar has continually failed to enforce current legal protections.

The ITF has repeatedly exposed discriminatory practices –including curfews, surveillance and arbitrary dismissals-and flight attendants have repeatedly referred to a climate of fear at the carrier (see http://bit.ly/1jXWWAv).

“The truth will come out, and we’re going to continue making sure it does. Change has to happen, and until it does the rulers of Qatar and Qatar Airways can be sure that we won’t go away,” said ITF President Paddy Crumlin.

“Qatar Airways already has an unenviable reputation for severe employment practices, even among industry professionals, with allegations including harassment and restrictions on visitors and relationships,” said  ITF acting General Secretary Steve Cotton. “We urge the ILO to act on our representation and make the recommendations necessary to bring the Qatar government into compliance with its international commitments as soon as possible and end the disgraceful discriminatory measures against women workers employed by its national carrier.”