Qatar Airways changes policy of sacking cabin crew for getting married, pregnant

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Doha: Qatar Airways was shamed into relaxing its policy of sacking cabin crew for getting pregnant or marrying in their first five years of employment, a labour federation said Thursday, while welcoming the move.

“Qatar Airways has been shamed into action, and that’s a tremendous advance,” International Transport Workers Federation president Paddy Crumlin said in an statement. “No amount of hiding behind ‘best airline’ awards has kept the truth about how staff are treated from emerging.”

The ITF said the move, confirmed by the Doha-based carrier Wednesday, was a “first victory” for staff rights. And it said that, working closely with staff, it “will continue to campaign for further change and respect for workers’ rights.”

Company executives said Wednesday the restrictions had been phased out over the past six months. “Our policies have evolved with the airline’s growth,” a spokeswoman said. Under the new regulations, women who get pregnant are now offered temporary ground jobs and staff may get married after notifying the company.

“We will provide an opportunity for someone to continue working in a ground position,” the spokeswoman said. Crumlin said that “we, along with everyone who works for the airline, hope that they will now address what many of those workers call the ‘climate of fear’ at Qatar Airways. There’s much to be done, but the airline has made one step towards it.”

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton also praised staff who had “bravely and secretly” spoken up about the issue. Other controversial regulations, such as female crew only being allowed to be picked up from work by their fathers, brothers or husbands, are thought to remain in place, at least for the present.

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