Published on Monday, October 26, 2015

Cabin crew plead with Barcelona FC to drop Qatar Airways

A group of cabin crew members is putting renewed pressure on Barcelona Football Club to reject further sponsorship by Qatar Airawys, which it claims is mistreating its staff.

The crew will protects outside the FC Barcelona members' meeting in the Spanish city on Sunday.

They say they want members to 'uphold the club's ideals of social responsibility and fairness' and reject the airline's sponsorship of the team. In 2011, Qatar Airways paid €150 million for a five-year deal to become the first ever sponsor of the club's shirts.

International Transport Workers' Federation policy coordinator Sarah Finke said: "Qatar Airways personnel live under constant surveillance and the threat of instant dismissal for 'offences' such as having a tattoo, being pictured in a Facebook  post at the beach, or holding a cigarette or drink.

"They describe it as living in a climate of fear. They are barred from having a union to speak out for them. Qatar Airways staff have no voice. FC Barca members do. We ask them to search their souls and say no to this tainted sponsorship deal. Don't sponsor fear in Qatar Airways"

She claimed Qatar Airways staff have to sign a lifelong confidentiality clause on joining that prevents them ever talking publicly about the airline  and are subject to:

•        Company searches of accommodation while crew members are on a flight

•        Instant dismissal for having tattoos even when these are not visible in uniform

•        Using too much hair gel;  wearing a hat wrongly or other minor grooming discrepancies can result in termination

•        The use of mobile phones in uniform is not permitted

•        Crew members are not allowed to volunteer themselves as witnesses to any passenger complaint

•        If leaving the country for days off or annual leave, the company needs to authorise an exit permit. Crew members who have been issued with warnings may be denied such permits and therefore cannot leave the country

•        Under the company's code of practice female staff can't be dropped off or picked up from company premises by a man other than their father, brother or husband

Until recently, Qatar Airways contracts included a clause reserving the right of the company to sack female cabin crew who become pregnant, said ITF. It removed this from all new contracts after the ITF and the International Trade Union Confederation submitted a case against Qatar to the International Labour Organization.

Although the clause has been removed, ITF said the airline has not publicly presented any evidence that proves that the practice has stopped.

The ITF first approached Barcelona in October 2014 asking it to reject further sponsorship by Qatar Airways because of the airline's 'dictatorial' treatment of its workers, which it claimed is incompatible with the club's values.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton told the club that: "For as long as this airline and its host country shun basic rights and turn a blind eye to suffering they have no place on the shirts and the stadium of a club that is dedicated to upholding social and community values."

Qatar Airways' deal to sponsor Barcelona was announced after Qatar won the right to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.


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