When I read this letter I felt really proud of this girl. Integrity is a rare characteristic in this world of greedy and senseless people.
Never let anyone convince you that you are not worthy enough.
I was first called into the “Office” of my Manager after an incident occurred on board one of my flights. I say “Office” because the joke was, he didn’t actually have one. I found myself on several occasions having meetings with him either in Costa Coffee in EGHQ or in the Crew Standby Lounge. So much for privacy. Not to mention on one occasion, I was actually called in to see him by my staff number. (Yes, I was called by my staff number, not my name.)
My manager, Ram Murphy, had a reputation for disliking all his female crew and having an amazingly positive relationship with all his male crew.
Ram liked to show off and give the impression that he knew what was going on and that he had everything under control. Truth was, he knew very little and was lazy and incompetent. He made it look like he was caring and understanding of your needs by smiling, over gesturing and speaking a lot but saying nothing at all, when, in reality, he couldn’t care less about how you were spoken to on board by a senior or how hard you were trying to be “Star of the Month.” (Nujum) Many times he would randomly start speaking about Etihad and Qatar, how they were our competition (as if I didn’t know) and he always told me to keep “wowing” passengers with my five star smile. In fact, he mentioned the latter to many girls who went to him for meetings and spoke enthusiastically about their physical appearances.
Upon being called in to speak to him, he would always ask for “my version of what happened” this in itself would wind me up. Not only was I already in trouble for speaking up for myself, but many managers have already taken the Senior Members’ word for what happened and they’re on their side no matter what, regardless of what you say. So I always wondered why I had even been called into the office in the first place. It was obviously just scare mongering and an attempt to intimidate me further. If the Senior can’t intimidate you on board, then they will make sure your manager sees to it.
Ram also liked to speak about “perceptions” and how I said things “in the wrong way”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think I know how to speak to people by now. Before EK hired me, I had worked for another European Airline for two years and worked as a Teacher, so telling me I don’t know how to express myself correctly is pretty offensive, in my opinion. What the problem with Seniors is, when they say something to you, as in, when they’re giving you what they call “constructive criticism” you MUST agree with it. The ridiculous thing about this is, most of the criticism wasn’t even constructive in the first place and I was constantly being spoken down to like I was a child or an animal. Something which, as a fully grown, educated adult, I will not tolerate from anyone. Especially someone who I just met in the briefing room an hour before the flight. One thing a lot of seniors and managers liked to say is “it’s not my opinion on you, it’s an observation” which, in time, I came to disagree with because you might well observe a lot of me, other crew on board and how we behave and do our job, but one thing I know for sure is, when negative things are consistently written for little or no reason, it’s no longer an observation, it’s an opinion. A forced opinion.
Truth is, seniors on board are under immense pressure by their own managers to report and spot errors in as many crew as possible. Their excuse for this type of discipline is: “no crew member is perfect.” Understandable, but no human being is perfect, are they? So to me, this is an utterly pathetic excuse to use for why seniors and managers must consistently knock hard working crew down, intimidate and bully them until they snap. Until they have to come in and see their managers who then feed them the infamous line “If you’re not happy, then resign”
It’s one big domino effect. Managers pressurise Seniors, who then pass on that pressure to their crew on board, who then feel so overwhelmed by that pressure, they end up collapsing. Crew by this point are no longer able to perform at their best, they’re exhausted by the negativity and constant lack of support. When crew then stop performing well on board and not trying their best, the seniors have more negative comments to write on their flight reviews, which the Cabin Crew Managers then call that crew member in for. So the viscous circle continues, until the crew member resigns.
The way I heard some Seniors speak to other crew was shocking for me. I’m fully aware no job is perfect and that there will always be someone who disagrees with you, but this wasn’t one or two people trying to cause trouble here and there. This was a daily occurrence on almost every flight. A regular pattern of consistent brainwashing. If it wasn’t me, it was somebody else on the receiving end of a Senior’s insecurity or fear. A Senior’s fear that, if all the crew on board that flight were well behaved and hard working, they wouldn’t fulfill their own Manager’s dream of having “no perfect crew”, which usually resulted in that Senior getting into trouble. So, in order to save their own backs, they had to taint as many crew as possible.
There were crew on board who I flew with who had been Doctors, Nurses, Teachers and Lawyers back in their home countries. People who came from highly educated backgrounds doing this job for various reasons, whether it was for the experience, the challenge, travel, career breaks etc… All at some point, being subjected to this mental bullying, brainwashing and belittling. All in the name of pretentious Emirates, who think being the best means you have to give up your rights to be treated like a human being.
I remember the flight when I finally snapped and decided that I was done with this ludicrous system of discipline. It started when the Purser decided he wanted to question me on religion, a big no-go area when it comes to topics to discuss on board. Now, I’m sure there are people who will be reading this and thinking “What’s the problem with asking that?” but for people who haven’t worked in this company, EK strongly advise crew to avoid any conversations on board regarding Religion, Sex or Politics…which is perfectly understandable considering that you work with at least seven (sometimes more) different nationalities at a time on one flight alone.
He asked me where I got my Muslim surname from (I’m of mixed heritage but I do not follow any religion of my own, I made this crystal clear on my application form when I applied) and if I was a Muslim or if I believed in God. I simply answered that I didn’t follow any religion and that this wasn’t the best conversation to have while at work and within earshot of passengers. He then had the nerve to ask me “Why are you not a Muslim?” I told him he had no right to question me about my, or anyone else’s religion on board and that the conversation was over. This backfired and made him furious because of the fact that I had stood up for myself and answered him back, which no doubt he wasn’t expecting me to do, nor was he intimidating me like he had hoped. The Purser was literally shaking with rage by this point. To ask someone “Why are you not a Muslim?” or of any other religion for that matter, is as offensive as asking someone about the colour of their skin. It’s unacceptable and I was having none of it.
The dye was cast from that moment onwards and he decided to make my life very difficult for the rest of the flight. He obviously told the other Senior what had happened because he also started to bully and pick at every little thing which I did wrong. Upon arrival into Dubai I was shown my flight review and told that my Manager would be notified of my “unacceptable” behaviour on board. Basically, I was being sent to see my manager because I didn’t want to speak about Religion on board. (Something crew were advised not to speak about in the first place)
I made the decision there and then that when I went in to see Ram, he’d be receiving my resignation as well. Enough was enough. I was done and dusted with trying to be the best I could be and getting nowhere, or getting no recognition for my back breaking work and having people speak down to me, just because they have the power to have you sacked for nothing.
In the year and a half in which I had been flying, I had had NO sick days or missed flights and yet, funnily enough, Ram hadn’t noticed that. I had NO complaints from passengers, either. What he had noticed, however, was that although I did my JOB properly, never broke protocol or breached security, I was deemed as having an attitude because I refused to let Seniors speak to me disrespectfully. I refused to be consistently harassed on board. This behaviour from the Purser and Senior WAS harassment. And it wasn’t the first time I had been on the receiving end of it, nor was it the first time for many of my other colleagues who had experienced the same bullying, but were too scared to say anything in case they got reported to their managers. This kind of provoking always resulted in me speaking up on board but always ending up in HQ speaking to Ram Murphy.
Many a time I’d arrive at HQ to be met by his assistant, or whoever he could get on the day to go through the previous flight’s dramas with me. If Ram could get someone to do his dirty work, he would. He loved the status and no doubt the salary of a Manager but not the work load and responsibilities which came with it.
As soon I sat down, I handed him my resignation letter and said that I refused to speak about the pathetic “situation” which had happened on my previous flight. I didn’t want to hear another fake, lying word come from his mouth. These EK Managers, along with many Pursers and Seniors are so brainwashed they are incapable of thinking rationally. You can’t reason with a brainwashed person and I had finally come to the conclusion that I was no longer going to waste my time or energy trying to do so.
He took my resignation and asked me if I thought I was doing the right thing. Suddenly, he was interested. I said I was 100% sure and nothing he or anyone else said would change that. And with that, I walked out of the Crew Standby Lounge he was using as his office that day, and never looked back.
I’d like to add to anyone reading this blog who is current crew working for EK, who has been in a similar situation before, that you are not alone and it’s not your fault! This company will make anything your fault and make you out to be the bad guy all the time, there is no winning, unless you’re one of the bullies yourself. Many of my friends are still out there working for them and in all honesty, I don’t recognise them anymore. I feel like I’ve lost them to Emirates, like they’ve been kidnapped and have very little chance of being released back into the real world.
Today, not only am I earning more and doing less, I work normal hours with great people and I have time to socialise, keep up with friends, family and hobbies. All without having to watch my back. My happiness and confidence have soared and I finally feel like I’m myself again. I’m my own person, with strengths and weaknesses and I don’t have to feel guilty about it anymore. EK really knocked my self-esteem and I can now see why they hire people so young. (and have stopped hiring 30+) It’s so they can continue with their nasty, backward ways and be more comfortable knowing a 21 year old probably won’t question what they’re doing or know any different.