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Global trade unions expose shocking sexism at Qatar Airways

GLOBAL trade union groups put Qatar in the dock at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland, today over the conduct of national carrier Qatar Airways. 

The United Nations organisation heard the International Transport Workers Federation and the International Trade Union Confederation accuse Qatar of allowing the state-owned airline to violate ILO Convention 111 on discrimination.

The groups accuse the airline of workplace sex discrimination and of restricting women’s rights.

They allege that the Qatari government is in breach of its international obligations by turning a blind eye to these offences. 

The two organisations have provided evidence that female cabin crew members face gender-based discrimination such as a contractual marriage bar for the first five years of service and a provision allowing the company to terminate employment upon pregnancy.

ITF has repeatedly exposed discriminatory practices including curfews, surveillance and arbitrary dismissal at the airline.

Its acting general secretary Steve Cotton said: “Qatar Airways already has an unenviable reputation for severe employment practices.

“We urge the ILO to … bring Qatar into compliance with its international commitments as soon as possible and end the disgraceful discriminatory measures against women workers.”

ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “The corrupt kafala system used in Qatar, including by Qatar Airways, virtually enslaves women and controls their every movement.

“They are being denied their rights and their dignity.”

ITF president Paddy Crumlin added: “Qatar is on trial. The truth will out and we’re going to continue making sure that it does.”

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