The International Labor Organization on Tuesday called on Qatar Airways to scrap contracts allowing the state-owned airline to sack female crew members who fell pregnant, saying such measures were discriminatory.
The U.N. agency also rapped the airline for stipulating that women crew members could only be picked up from work by their father, brother or husband.
The ILO had looked into the Doha-based airline's employment rules after the International Transport Workers' Federation and the International Trade Union Confederation brought the case to the U.N. agency.
"The provisions providing the company with the possibility to automatically terminate the employment of women cabin crew on the sole basis of pregnancy are discriminatory," the ILO said. The organization acknowledged that pregnant women were temporarily unable to fly due to health and safety reasons, but that “protective measures should include action taken to ensure that a woman worker does not lose her job during pregnancy,” it stated in the report.
The ILO said the provision breached its 57-year-old convention against discrimination at work, which has been ratified by more than 170 countries.
The organization also asked the Qatar government about the impact of a clause stipulating that crew members needed prior permission from the company to get married. The government said that clause did not discriminate against women because it was gender neutral, but indicated that it had been dropped from the new employment contract.
The ILO's finding came as Qatar Airways — one of the world's fastest growing airlines — won the Airline of the Year Award for the third time at the annual Skytrax World Awards at the Paris air show.
At the air show, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker was quoted by Reuters saying, “I don't give a damn about the ILO — I am there to run a successful airline.” He added that the ILO had a vendetta against Qatar and Qatar Airways.
This criticism of labor practices comes in the wake of outcry about the way that Qatar has treated its work force in preparation of the 2022 World Cup.
Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse