A blog update from Mr Tom Burgess, former Senior Vice President of Emirates Group IT.
It is sad to witness the Emirates Group’s deterioration accelerating. The knee jerk and badly managed actions which I feared (but hoped would be avoided had Herr Mueller managed to get an early and firm grip on the organisation) are well underway, and probably unstoppable. I am sure that many of you would have seen a video of Herr Mueller’s interview whilst he was CEO at Aer Lingus and been impressed by his genuine understanding of the importance of people in any organisation. I certainly was. I felt that if anyone could turn Emirates around, then he could. But it was a big ask. He probably has the support of over 95% of Emirates’ staff – essential for someone wanting to make wholesale changes – but nobody would have underestimated the challenges presented within the remaining few per cent. When I struggled to get Patrick Naef to see (what I was convinced was) common sense, I often felt that I was ‘pissing into the wind’. Herr Mueller has probably been facing a hurricane over the past six months.
Patrick Naef’s communication (at the end of last month) to EG-IT staff is another example of corporate incompetence and duplicity. He trivialises events by suggesting that they are just part of a review “on the way we work” and avoids revealing the true size of yet another one of his crusades against loyal members of his department. He promises openness, yet proceeds in secrecy – some staff had already been forced out before the note was sent. His communication is so amateurish it would be seen as laughable, if the topic was not so serious. But I guess everyone would have allowed themselves a wry smile at Patrick Naef’s heart-warming promise to those leaving of his “support during the transition”. This is like being introduced, just as you are about to enter theatre for major surgery, to someone who will be on hand at all times to give you “every support” and then discovering that it is the Grim Reaper.
On the 8th of November 2014 this blog had two months anniversary. For this occasion I am publishing blog statistics (screenshots).
I am still disappointed that no one from Emirates Airline had a decency and a good will to apologize for harassment at work (and for managers who did not answer on my complaint on harassment – which is the harassment itself) and threatening me with prison (!) for writing this blog. This threat is really surprising since UAE people claim to be protective towards women and tolerant for different cultures and I believe them.
I am separating the company from its managers. I have worked for the company’s image and brand, not for the managers.This is why this blog’s name is about the management, not about the company.
Nevertheless, I do not expect any apology any more and I will continue to write this blog as a form of investigative journalism and I invite all people who have something to say about the subject of this blog to write to me at dragana.blog.ek(at)gmail.com.
If Emirates Airline managers hurt you in any way, send me your story or your thoughts/opinions or suggestions for improvement even and, if you are able – provide evidence as well: names, e-mails, documents and audio/video records (be careful with the last one, though. Check UAE laws about recordings). I will be glad to help you to be heard worldwide since this blog had almost 300.000 views in just two months which is average of around 4.400 views per day or 1500 people reading the blog every day from all over the globe.
When I have published the Open letter to His Highness and the article about the attempt of EK to censor my articles, blog was on the list of 100 most read WordPress blogs in the world, taking high 7th place (around 16.000 visitors).
Blog has 555 comments so far.
Since this blog has a steady and big group of readers, especially from Europe, Canada, USA and Australia and since you have no unions and no rights, and you are not protected in any way from contracts violations and harassment at work, consider this blog as a way for your voice to be heard. I guarantee that you will remain anonymous.
It has been 17 days since I have posted the open letter to HH the Chairman of Emirates Airline.
While I was in the process of fighting against my dismissal and for labour rights, me and couple of my colleagues went to Sheikh’s office twice and I’ve sent him couple of e-mails. He was never in his office and his staff answered only one of my e-mails, providing me with no other information than that HH “is away”. My Embassy forwarded my and my colleagues’s request for a meeting to Sheikh’s office. Still, there was no response.
I’ve heard almost only the best things about HH Sheikh Ahmed.
Also, this blog is attracting a considerable amount of public’s attention.
So, lets open a discussion.
What is the reason His Highness did not answer the open letter or request for a meeting?
After the open forum for EKAS staff on 21st of July, I’ve sent two e-mails to EKAS managers. First one was a simple question if we are going to get a written feedback from our open forums. It is only civilized to get some outcomes about solutions for employees’s problems (let me remind you that employees’s problems are actually employer’s problems, which is something that EKAS and HR managers do not understand since they behaved like they are doing us a favour with the open forums). After this, on the next morning, I’ve got an invitation for a disciplinary meeting. This invitation came on my private mobile phone number and e-mail address and it came 18 hours before the time meeting was scheduled.
Internal Employee Manual says that I have to be notified 24 hours in advance about any disciplinary meeting. I have complained on this and got the answer from HR management that Manual was not violated.
This is the problem when company is not subject of any Federal Law that can control it. Managers can harass you and behave like supreme gods over your destiny because they are the ones making the rules and they have the ultimate right to violate them. Employees (especially foreign ones) have no protection whatsoever and they are in the mercy of the same managers that harass them.
After my disciplinary hearing invite, I have sent another e-mail to all managers asking for His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed AlMaktoum to be my witness at the meeting. I was suspended next day and I was notified about suspension via sms on my private mobile phone and my private e-mail address. His Highness was refused as my witness since “he is not an employee of Emirates”.
Moreover, my disciplinary meeting was to be held by two managers who were participating the forum! It took me a whole day to convince one of those managers – Amanda Maxwell (HR Manager) that I have the right on objective managers that had nothing to do with the forum. Managers, obviously, found nothing wrong in the fact that I will be judged by the same people who found my behaviour at the forum inappropriate. The prosecutor is accusing you and the same prosecutor is judging you.
After a long correspondence with Ms Amanda, I finally got at least one independent manager to be at my hearing (Ms Maria Escobar, HR manager from Dnata). Second manager at disciplinary hearing was at the forum and he played the crucial role after the disciplinary meeting – Mr Rami El Samra, manager concourse.
All the meetings in Emirates Airline are held like police interrogation. You have to come to the meeting when they tell you to come (even if it’s your day off) and you are interrogated in an hostile and unpleasant way. Ms Maria Escobar, “experienced HR manager” as she said, made me feel like I am a criminal, asking questions about my behaviour at the open forum in aggressive and hostile way (I had a witness for that). When everything was finished Ms Maria left and Mr Rami told me that he is “willing to accept me at the gates if everything goes fine after the meeting”.
Since it was Eid (public holiday in UAE), and managers went to their vacations, I was suspended for two weeks after the disciplinary meeting, waiting for managers to come back from their vacations and to make a decision about my employment.
After two weeks I was called to line manager’s office and presented with a termination letter. Termination letter for inappropriate behaviour at the open forum was signed by manager who was present at the same Forum (and therefore subjective) and with whom I have never worked before – Mr Rami El Samra. He manifested a big change from his “if everything goes well, you will work with me at the gates” to “here is your termination with my signature on it” stand. It’s like managers do not have any control over their decisions at all. Mr Rami was not even present when I was given the termination letter. I was not given any notice period or briefed about what shall I do next or whether I am going to get my salary.
Moreover, when I wanted to check my HR Direct on my last day of work, I was brutally kicked out from the admin room and my HR profile was immediately shut down. Let me remind you that every employee has the right to follow his termination process via HR direct. I was even denied to do that.
The rest of the story is history. I have appealed to Mr Mohammad Mattar (DSVP) and Ms Michelle Carswell (HR manager). They listened to me (with a slight dosage of defending the managers and the company) and my termination decision was confirmed.
I have been notified that I have to leave the accommodation until 9th of September and to bring my passport for visa cancellation until 10th of September. So, I supposed to be on a street for couple of days until my visa is cancelled.
This is the moment when I have opened this blog and started writing about injustice and manager’s incapability to do their jobs.
One day before I left the country I have received a phone call from my Embassy. They told me that “someone from Emirates Airline” called to notify them that I can end up in prison for writing “things against Sheikh on Facebook” (which is not true).
Next day I left the country without visa cancellation. It would be madness to give my passport to someone who is threatening me with a prison. I have notified the company about this fact and about the fact that I am expecting apology. Until today’s day I haven’t got any reply from them. I left my notice period salary and end of service compensation with them.
I liked the UAE, actually, and I liked local people. This is why I can not understand why people have to escape that country for things they did not do? Why that country is hostile towards people who have different opinion? Why they opened themselves for the whole world, expecting respect for their way of thinking and culture, when they do not bother to understand others?
Never in my life I would expect that I will have to escape from my employer for manifesting my freedom of speech.
The day that money took the power over people is the day when everything started to fall apart.
When I got my final warning for disrespectful and aggressive passenger I got to know the ultimate extent of management’s incapability to do their jobs and negligence towards their staff.
Moreover, when I’ve had my meeting with Mr Mattar (DSVP), who claimed that grade 4 and 5 “are happy” I was sure that either something is wrong with internal communication between managers (someone is making false reports to higher management) or managers are simply denying the fact that they have a huge problem, because they:
1) Don’t care
2) Don’t want to admit a mistake
Of course, no one in this upside down world of selfish and egocentric people don’t want to admit a mistake. Especially if the warning or advice is coming from someone they consider “lower grade”, “some grade 1” or , simply, on a lower monetary, and hence, intellectual level (?!).
As my final warning appeal I’ve written 5 pages e-mail about the fact that the Emirates Airline turned into a dying empire, since every empire in history of mankind disappeared for not knowing how to manage their magnitude. Of course, I knew that this will be accepted as very controversial. I was told that “in this company I am not HR manager but check in agent”. It’s very true but it is also a pure vanity argument.
It is, also, something else: the person who told me this (HR manager from Dnata Ms Maria Escobar) expressed her unconscious elitism and hints of something called “disposable staff policy“. She told me that she has a lot of experience in other companies and it was her ultimate argument why she is right and I am just talking nonsense. Maybe I could even agree with her if I didn’t know that good HR manager never puts educated and experienced employees down or competes with them in education and experience. Good managers listen to their front line employees and they never underestimate their intellect or capabilities.
So, Emirates Airline recruiters go around the world (to troubled countries mostly) and hire highly educated and/or smart and hard working people (often in need of money) for entry positions. For people who never worked in aviation this is fine. You work your way hard from the lowest positions and then gradually advance and learn more and more. At least this is how it should be. Don’t forget, Emirates recruiters are, actually, doing their job very well. They have unmistakable instinct for talented and honest people. It is just that those people are not appreciated once they arrive in Dubai.
Disposable staff policy means that those people were not hired to be nurtured as company’s future. They are squeezed until their last drop of blood and their health and youth are exploit in order to make huge profit for high management only, while staff’s salaries remain on the same level for years.
This brings us back to my famous question about Ms Anoma’s (DVP) salary. Yes, asking for someone’s salary may be “inappropriate” or considered as “rude” but only in the cultures where there is social and economic justice (Mr Mattar mentioned Stockholm on our meeting, so I will give the same example). People in Northern Europe know that profit is mostly shared fairly and accordingly to everyone’s role (I am not using the term “position” on purpose) in the company, so there is no need to ask for their manager’s salary. They are happy with their own pay cheque and sure that their work and knowledge are not exploit in order for someone to get sick rich.
Position hierarchy, as one in Emirates Airline, exist only in discriminative and retrograde societies where people are not self confident and self assured, so they identify themselves with a position of a “boss”. Once there, these people stop growing mentally and spiritually (if they had ever grown in such a way). When this happens there is the end of all prosperity and everything starts to die.
How else would you explain the fact that DVP Ms Anoma Manuel proudly introduced new check in system before it was properly tested and before it had all the functions needed for operation? Moreover, she never listened the negative feedback from her employees, forcefully cancelling previous system to everyone and causing chaos at the airport and dissatisfaction among staff?
Disposable staff policy means that there is too much negative staff selection and too much positive one.
Negative staff selection happens when these incapable “bosses” prosecute and torture smart and educated people just because they don’t understand what wealth in human resources they have in the company and they have no idea how to put them in use for the benefit of all and company’s future.
Positive selection happens when there is a system of promotion that favours employees by racial or national key (although, positive discrimination of local people in Dubai is acceptable until some extent) or by wastas (which became primary way of promoting people in Emirates Airline).
Disposable staff policy means that managers will intimidate staff with punishments and warnings and threats of job loss because this is their only way to control the situation since they don’t have leadership skills and charisma so employees could love them and follow them voluntarily.
Disposable staff policy means ignoring staff’s needs and pleas. This is why I am not surprised that His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed AlMaktoum did not answer the open letter yet although I am sure that he read it. I would like to think that he is enlightened above the average in his company but I still do not have proofs for that.
Disposable staff policy means (also demotivated?) administration which makes mistakes in dealing with staff’s rosters and leaves, and HR managers who stay at HQ and rarely come to the airport to speak with staff, communicating with them via surveys that almost everybody is afraid to fill in.
Disposable staff policy also means that staffs are completely unprotected in dealing with aggressive and rude passengers and any conflict with them is an automatic and certain punishment for staff.
If this is happening for years, then, at the end, we have sick and rotten environment which chases away, tortures, demotivates or prosecutes smart employees and keeps lazy and incapable ones. In these circumstances it is only natural that disposable staff policy will be almost official. Higher management is denying the truth (or they are not communicated with the truth) and lower, incapable, management is treating newcomers like kleenex.
If you don’t like it, there are many others who want to take your place (This is Ms Anoma’s favourite message to her employees who are, mainly, more educated than her). She is, obviously, forgetting that her staff invested their health, knowledge and experience in that job and no one likes to invest in something and than just let it go.
Managers like these are simply incapable to lead or to see the bigger picture. In this case, bigger picture is the one where picture is falling apart in the sea of blind managers incapable to make long term plans and visions. It’s gone with all the good and under appreciated employees who resigned from the hell they were trapped in or who stayed, but demotivated and unhappy. It died in greed and incapacity to learn from mistakes. Like every big empire did.