Since Emirates Airline management called my Embassy to tell them that I can end up in prison for writing “things against Sheikh” on Facebook (I didn’t write anything against him, but I had to escape from UAE in fear of being arrested for manifesting my freedom of speech), I am writing this open letter to Sheikh in hope that he will read it and make some actions to protect his employees from constant prosecution and brutal torture with shifts, low salaries, humiliating treatment, forced overtime and punishments.
Human and Labour rights should be respected and employees should be treated with dignity and respect in every company but especially in one which operates internationally, flying its planes to the countries where its employees are coming from.
Dear Excellence HH Sheikh Ahmed,
I have worked as a check in and boarding agent for Emirates Airline for one year and five months. My last day of service was 6th of August.
I was presented with a dismissal letter which violates not only company’s manuals but also Dubai Labour Law and Human and Labour Rights guaranteed in UAE. I find this embarrassing and shocking for such a respected company with an excellent public image.
My employment with Emirates was terminated for “inappropriate behaviour” which was asking EKAS DVP Anoma Manuel on an open forum how much is her salary, after the claims of the present managers that staff can “survive” in Dubai with given salary.
Two days after the forum I was suspended for whole two weeks only to be presented with dismissal from the service at the end.
This situation was the escalation of the difficulties and events that all staff in EKAS are facing and we want to seek your help and protection because we have no one else to turn to.
Me and my friends were recruited in Europe and we were happy to accept the honour to work with the best airline in the world. We all have university degrees and we were expecting dignified conditions of work and good opportunities to grow within the company. But once we have arrived in Dubai it became obvious that it will not be possible. We were presented with tiring night shifts immediately (10 hours shifts, with 45 minutes break) and a very disrespectful treatment from our superiors, since organizational culture in EKAS is poor and undeveloped.
After 8 months of working, since many staff resigned, management was left with the lack of staff which they have decided to recover by making even bigger pressure on remaining staff: they came up with 12 hours shifts in 4 duty days and 4 days off schedule. First two days we work day shifts, and on the two last days of the cycle we work night shifts. We have the right on only one 1 hour break. Since we have to change two buses from our company provided accommodation, it is actually 14 hours shift with the opportunity to eat only once in 14 hours period.
Management imposed forced overtime on our days off also, which is not in our contracts and nobody told us, during the recruitment process, that we will be deprived from our days off and rest.
We all look exhausted and feel very depressed. We also feel trapped and deceived regarding our employment in Emirates Airline, since we were never told that we have to work 14 hours shifts, without seeing much sunlight in all 4 duty days in one cycle; with 6 hours working continuously without a break; and forced overtime on our days off. We even have whole 7 hours shift with no break at all!
Administration is often refusing our leaves if they think that the load at the airport will be huge. We are forced to clear the big queues at the airport, work for hours at the same counter, tag the bags for hours like robots, without any breaks.
EKAS management with DVP Anoma Manuel wants multicultural and multinational ground staff, but this whole truly nice concept ends at the airport where young and educated people from all over the world are treated like animals trapped in a cage. There is a rule of fear imposed by high management and it creates depressive and non-efficient working environment.
Bottom line, Your Highness, we, check in and boarding agents, are the most responsible for Your company’s image and brand and we deserve much more for giving our skills, health and time to this company than to be exploit like slaves just in order for high management to have very high salaries and benefits. In the meantime, prices in Dubai increased much but our salaries remained at the same level – 3500 dirhams. Many of us found ourselves living on debts and loans, surviving in Dubai. And we have very few opportunities to grow within the company since there is a developed culture of wastas and discriminatory promotions.
Profit has always been a primary concern of the management, but in this case, Your Highness, there is too much injustice at the airport. There is, also, a huge number of managers having high salaries whose only job is to humiliate and pressurize staff to work more. And if we express our dissatisfaction, they tell us to resign if we are not happy or they punish us, so many staffs are afraid to express their opinion.
We are expected to leave our home, parents and friends, work beyond hard, earn money for others, and, at the end, when we feel exhausted, stressed out and humiliated, we are expected just to go back home without any savings or dignity.
I have worked in some known international companies. I have also worked as academy staff at my University. I have seen some injustice and bad employee treatment, but this is just beyond my imagination. Emirates Airline was a strong, respected company but, in just one year, things went considerably wrong. Even passengers are massively complaining and asking what is happening with Emirates. Company is growing too fast and it needs very strong and capable people to keep it together, but things at the airport are just out of control.