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09/26/2013

Meet the airline with veto power over employee marriages

Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 2.30.40 PM

A Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner lands at Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 16, 2013, one day before the 50th Paris Air Show. The air show runs from June 17 to 23.(Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)

Flight attendants and other airline employees are used to having to make requests of their employers.

There are shift changes, vacation bookings, and requests to work or avoid certain routes.
But one Middle East airline is making waves for its insistence that female employees make what many would consider an unorthodox request. Qatar Airways demands its women workers first ask for permission to marry.

The airline also insists female employees must tell the company if they become pregnant. If that happens, the worker could be fired, according to a report on Arabianbusiness.com.

It hasn't been a great week for Qatar, which is scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup of soccer. The Guardian newspaper also reports that slave labour is being used to build the country's sports facilities and that dozens of Nepalese migrant workers have died of heat exhaustion at Qatari work sites in recent weeks.

The airline revelation that has stoked outrage at the International Transport Workers' Federation, which represents 4.5 million workers in 150 countries.

That union has sent officials to Canada to lobby the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is based here and has the ability to "take action" against the carrier, Arabbusiness.com said. It's unclear whether the organization could penalize Qatar Airways for the alleged workers rights abuse.
Earlier this year, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker blamed unions for the dispute.

“If you did not have unions you wouldn’t have this jobless problem in the western world… It is caused by unions making companies and institutions uncompetitive and bringing them to a position of not being efficient,” Al Baker told Arabian Business.

“If you go and ask the politicians in most of the countries in the western world they would love to have the system we have: where the workers have rights through the law but they do not have rights through striking and undermining successful institutions that provide jobs to their knees,” he added.

Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at The Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead

Comments

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Maybe we should all go back to 19th Century England, work 12 hours a day in very cold rooms and get paid 7 shillings a week. That's the world Al Baker would have in our future.

Aside from the main point of the article, what's going on with that plane in the photo? It looks like the wing is flapping in the wind. I can't figure out what's actually happening there.

Kat,

Those are called raked wingtips and make the aircraft have better fuel efficiency by reducing induced drag.

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