Qatar Airways' female staff are required to gain permission from the airline to get married or change their marital status as part of their contract of employment, it is being claimed.
Contracts also state female employees must inform the company if they become pregnant, which may result in the termination of their employment.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which represents around 4.5 million transport workers in 150 countries, released extracts of what it claimed are part of the standard terms and conditions of a standard hiring contract for Qatar Airways' female workers.
It read: “You are required to obtain prior permission from the company, in case you wish to change your marital status and get married. The employee shall notify the employer in case of pregnancy from the date of her knowledge of its occurrence.
“The employer shall have the right to terminate the contract of employment from the date of notification of the pregnancy. Failure of employee to notify the employer or the concealment of the occurrence shall be considered a breach of contract.”
The ITF is in Canada to lobby the International Civil Aviation Organisation to take action on what it termed “flagrant abuses of aviation workers’ labour rights” by carriers based in Qatar and the UAE.
Attending the ICAO’s 38th General Assembly in Montreal, which runs until October 4, the ITF claimed the 70,000 or more workers who work for the Gulf’s three largest carriers “do not enjoy the basic labour rights (including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining) which apply in their home countries and in virtually all the nations whose airlines compete with Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways”.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “The fact is that these companies are making a fortune from the efforts of hardworking staff who, undefended, can be discharged and deported on a whim.”
The ITF says that Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways are among the fastest-growing airlines in the world, employing more than 70,000 pilots, cabin crew and ground staff between them.
More than 90% of their employees are non-UAE/Qatari nationals – all of whom have to rely on obtaining temporary work visas under a sponsorship programme, it claims.
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker addressed the issues the ongoing criticisms of the Gulf state’s labour policies by international trade union bodies earlier this year.
“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,” he told local news outlet 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.”
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