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Tag Archives: Sophia Panayiotou SVP HRBS

Happy New Year!

Before I go to celebrate New Year’s eve I just wanted to send special thank you note to all the people who participated in the termination of my employment out of fear that they will actually have to do their jobs and appreciate their employees for bringing them much money and bonuses each year.

I may not be able to find a New Year eve’s dinner for 2 AED, but since I didn’t get even that much at the end of my service I have nothing to worry about tonight. As old saying in Serbia says: No money, no problem. Hope you will not abuse this saying as you are abusing the “you always have the choice to leave” one.

To

Ms. Anoma Manuel (former EKAS),

Mr.Abdulaziz Al Ali (HR),

Ms.Sophia Panayiotou (former HR),

Mr. Mohammed Mattar (EKAS),

Ms.Michelle Carswell (HR),

Ms.Amanda Maxwell (HR),

Mr. Maktoom Mohd. Hassan (HR)

I wish you Happy New Year and many more bonuses. There is one catch, though: I wish that you earn those bonuses by yourself, at the expense of your own work and health. I also wish you better understanding of your job positions and positions of those who work on lower positions. I wish you not to send sick people home without any compensation, not to terminate people who ask for dignified working conditions, not to threaten your employees with punishments and prison and I really wish you more love and sense of responsibility for all of those employees who didn’t have the luck to be local or to have western passports.

To all of my readers: Happy New Year, be strong, always defend your rights and dignity and see you next year. Same place, same time. 

Dragana

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2000 Emirates flight attendants resigned in September this year?

I remember my little chat with HR manager Mr.Maktoom Mohd. Hassan after the Open forum for ground staff (when he also told me that I am “finished”). When I asked him to tell us his opinion on huge resignation rate in Emirates Airline (specifically in Airport Services) he told my friend and me that staff turnover in Emirates Airline is “usual for every big company”.

DSVP of Airport Services Mr.Mohammed Mattar, on the other hand, admitted that he is short of staff. “I don’t have enough staff so I am forcing you to come to work” he said. I guess that this logic is very simple and makes managing of huge department very easy. I was hoping, though, that managers don’t use this logic on cabin crew, since there is more to gamble with on board by forcing tired staff to fly, than when you force people to come and seat at the counters for hours without a break.

There are couple of ways to force cabin crew to work more. One is to make them fly more than certain, prescribed by law and healthy, number of hours per month and another one is to make their layovers very short. Both are illegal and both are used by Emirates Airline as ways of compensating a serious lack of trained flight attendants.

My former colleagues boarding agents (still working) tell me that there is a visible lack of cabin crew, that flights are delayed because of it and there is even a widespread story that two flights were recently cancelled due to this lack of flight crew.

I have received several e-mails from members of EK cabin crew recently, mentioning some of the reasons why they resign in number that even endangers safe flying and operation, but one information left me speechless. One of those e-mails claims that 2000 flight attendants left the company just in September this year.

Whenever I read people’s stories and decide whether to publish them or not, I always wonder about their motives to write to me and their perception of reality. In this case, even if this number is not plausible, it proves the devastated state of flight crew morale. And who would like to fly with indifferent, tired and unhappy crew?

Of course, nobody from EK management cares about staff’s morale. Nobody thinks it’s important. Managers have huge salaries and bonuses and they keep themselves motivated. Flight crew, ground staff and passengers are there to ensure their bonuses. Once these managers are done with Emirates Airline they will return to their western homes. They will never consider themselves responsible for their employees’ misery and devastation of company’s image, they will never think that somebody is lying sick somewhere because of their exploit policies, they will never remember all those people who came to contribute to “making the history” and who became history instead.

Here are just some of the problems of cabin crew in Emirates Airline.

  1. “Lousy shoes that cause many industrial injuries that the company tries not to accept blame for. A cheap quality uniform that doesn’t wear or wash well. Staff have to buy replacements for parts of the uniform. Yes, they have to buy new shoes or wear them for one year exactly before they can get new ones for free of charge.”
  2. “There is a staff shortage as many experienced crew left and sometimes managers put resignation processing on hold as they can’t process them quick enough. Resignations run around 250 plus staffs a month. Now going to over 350.”
  3. “Some crew is doing over 120 hours a month flying and are exhausted and falling sick regularly. Some fly sick as they are told no upgrade if they are sick.”
  4. “They opened a walk in clinic in HQ which is full and crew waits for hours after a flight to be seen. Before cabin crew could self certify sickness for up to seven days. Now they are bringing new system to make crew come to see the nurse every two days so they can’t recover properly and just go to work like machines.”
  5. “If crew is even 1 minute late they get into serious problems and marked absent. But if plane and flight is delayed they are expected to work for nothing.”
  6. “Cabin crew is bullied, exploit, tired and fatigued.”
  7. More on cabin crew’s problems here.

Here is one particularly interesting e-mail from one cabin crew:

Cabin crew's e-mail. 2000 crew resigned in September.

Cabin crew’s e-mail. 2000 crew resigned in September.

they have reduced some allowances (like 120 eur to 90eur in Nice which I think is stollen a lot if mobey for 24hrs). I think way bigger problem are the illegal short layovers where ek pays fines rather than giving the crew longer stopover time but this is another topic. Oh, and there’s waaaaaay more crew resigning than 250 per month.  Only in sept it was around 2000.
Can I pls add one thing. Im currently in the xxx and I have some very new girls on my flight who haven’t finished their 6month probation yet. They told me they get weighed now before the start of the training, after the training, before getting a uniform AND after probation on their graduation day.  When i joined 2012 theree was no scales whatsoever.I think this says a lot about the values of this company. Some of the newbys look anorectic to me. They cannot close any overhead locker and god forbid I have no clue how would these 21year old 178cm and  48kg girls evacuate 500ppl in 90 sec with jammed doors, injured pax, heavy equipment etc
For ek its all about image and not evaluation of real situations. Everyones fatigued, scared and demotivated.i truely dont know when was the last time I saw someone who is happy with ek as an employer. People have to know how this system is rottening!!!
All the best Dragana,

And if someone has to say something in Emirates Airline’s defence, I would politely ask them to explain first the fact that Kevin Griffiths, Senior Vice President of Cabin Crew was demoted recently with a serious remuneration cut.

Before you continue to question everything that is said here, please explain first why some high levelled EK Human Resources managers were fired recently without a chance to even clean their desks before exiting the company?

Please explain why you didn’t publish results of the survey on employees’ satisfaction yet as you have promised?

Mr. Abdulaziz's (Head of EK HR) promise to publish result of a long gone survey on employees' satisfaction

Mr. Abdulaziz’s (Head of EK HR) promise to publish the results of a long gone survey on employees’ satisfaction

Dear managers, you can not keep denying things written on this blog and yet keep the reasons for firing and demoting big name managers as a secret. Something is obviously very wrong as people on this blog are pointing out for 4 months now.

But be careful in your answers though as you must write your comments online in the way your company has instructed you recently. I guess many managers do not follow these rules in their every day work (respecting people, differences and cultures), therefore they do not feel obliged to follow them online. And I guess that threats became usual and desirable way of making employees behave like managers want them to behave, so remember those of you, regular employees who want to write an honest comment here: you are tracked and observed by your company when writing online (at least this is how this first “rule” tries to scare you):

Mr.Jon Conway's (DSVP-UAE Airport Operations) instruction on how to behave online

Mr.Jon Conway’s (DSVP-UAE Airport Operations) instruction on how to behave online

I guess we just need time to see how much exactly is current Emirates staff turnover “usual” for big companies.

Happy New Year.


When people become wolves always hungry for more money

I’ve said this couple of times here and these “The National” articles just confirm it: you give love at the places you receive love; same goes for the hate. Place that lures people to come and live in it just in order to drain money from them, can’t expect bright future for itself. This kind of place loses all the humanity, money becomes God and people turn into wolves, biting each other for a coin (just like EK managers do).

I am afraid that the whole planet turned into one greedy place where people forgot that they are all connected and that happiness of others means happiness of oneself. But there are places in the world where love still exists and where money didn’t kill all the nobleness. You decide if you live in one of those places and whether you are contributing to its sustainability or to its devastation (like many EK managers do). You decide if you are truly happy or miserable as hell although you have (bloody) money and all that goes with it.

Articles:

UAE expats priced out of their lives

http://www.thenational.ae/business/personal-finance/uae-expats-priced-out-of-their-lives

I‘ve recently come across a growing number of people who are packing up and leaving the UAE, others who are seriously contemplating it, and many who are being vocal about their pain, but are staying put – for now.

Add to this snippets of conversation overheard about this when I’m out and about.

The problem is the cost of living.

Expats who come on bumper packages and have the increasingly pricey outgoings of rent and education covered – wholly or partially – won’t be affected by this. It’s long-term residents and entrepreneurs who are being hurt the most, especially those with children of school-going age.

And these two groups of people are exactly what any city needs; they choose to live here and want to stay, but cannot afford to.

In the past fortnight alone I have discovered that a handful of neighbours will be leaving the country – one family in particular embodies what’s happening: they’ve been in Dubai for a couple of decades – with one short-term hiatus in the late 1990s owing to family circumstances – and they’re torn. Both the husband and wife have built up businesses in the UAE, their three children are very settled and love their lives, and they genuinely believe that Dubai has a lot more to offer than what’s available back home. But the double whammy of rising fees along with not being paid on time by clients has hit them hard.

This is a family that saves but can’t any more – and they’ve been dipping into savings over many months to survive. Their life lurches from one term’s school fees to the next. And it just doesn’t work for them.

But they’re struggling with the decision to leave.

Everything’s in place for them to go come the end of the year: they have a yard sale in a week and grandparents are over to spend one last Christmas in the UAE sun.

But it’s tough. It’s not just that they’re saying goodbye to special friends, the only life their children know and their hopes for their futures here, it’s also that this time it’s different: going means never coming back, and that’s affecting them. A lot. They can’t come back because they would never be able to afford entry level prices to live in the UAE once again. Finding a home, for example, would be a major barrier once they give up their current lease. Their place is going for Dh280,000 these days, but they pay Dh150,000 – and they only moved in a year- and-a-half ago.

Their basic outgoings add up to Dh600,000 a year. That’s school fees for three, rent, utilities and other basic, red-tape and living costs. They could do a lot with that money back home – where schooling is free.

I’m told that when confronted with a dilemma and not being able to work out what’s best for them, this couple tosses a coin and goes with fate.

I don’t believe they’ll be doing that this time round. It just doesn’t make sense to stay.

A view echoed by friends who got together earlier in the month to celebrate someone’s 40 years in the UAE. Many of these long-term expat residents are upping sticks too. Most don’t have children at school, but they also find that the UAE isn’t what it used to be.

Of course there will always be people who bemoan a past lost for ever. Cities change – but this isn’t just about a fast-paced metropolis evolving, it’s also very much about how difficult it is to live in a place where you cannot save, and where you have no benevolent government that will pay your way when you go back home. So the cash-flow crunch dictates that people either live irresponsibly – not providing for the future – or make very emotional decisions and go elsewhere.

But some – I call them “expat prisoners” – can’t leave. These are people who have superb track records in their fields and cannot get jobs back home because of their age. The big question is: if everything they earn goes out to pay for their lives and if there’s no hope of them saving, or of creating additional streams of income, is it worth staying?

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Some are trying to figure out how to do both: stay and stem the money haemorrhage. I met someone last weekend who is contemplating moving to Ras Al Khaimah or somewhere in between there and Dubai, purely to get out of the rent hell that is her Dubai at the moment. Not only has her rent been put up by 20 per cent (take it or leave it), but she has just been told that no money will be put into the property as it seems it’s been earmarked for demolition.

Scores of people want to stay and contribute to the place they call home. When people like this can’t afford to to make ends meet, we lose more than just another expat.

Nima Abu Wardeh is the founder of the personal finance website cashy.me. You can reach her at nima@cashy.me

Why making ends meet simply isn’t enough for UAE expats struggling with rising costs

http://www.thenational.ae/business/personal-finance/why-making-ends-meet-simply-isnt-enough-for-uae-expats-struggling-with-rising-costs

We came in 2000 with promise and hope

We’re leaving this month being strung by a rope

The rope of high costs, bad mortgage and loans

No cash in the bank, down to the bare bones

This ode is for all, who like us are in stress

Don’t leave it too late to get out of this mess

Before you read on, you might well just say

“It’s all your own fault, why on earth did you stay?!”

After 14 long years of blood, sweat and tears

We couldn’t just run leaving all the arrears

If you’re struggling and stressing over bills you must pay

Just wrap it all up and call it a day

This is part of a poem I was sent in response to my column last week “Expats priced out of their lives”. It nails it for every single person who reached out to me having read the piece.

The message is clear: people are in pain. Today I’d like to share what I’ve learnt from the responses. Two things come up throughout:

• People are having difficulty “hanging on”, as someone put in a tweet to me.

• The serious and ongoing ramifications as a result of the financial crisis and the resulting economic dive in 2009 are now coming to a head.

This is a smattering of what was shared:

“We felt like wallets with legs.”

“My descriptor for ‘the only way to be in the UAE’ is to get a safe and secure salary, guaranteed housing, schools paid for, just do the job you are paid for and, sadly, don’t invest any of yourself into the country.”

Seeing as those who wrote in were mainly entrepreneurs or professionals who don’t get their outgoings covered, this makes sense.

The things is, we’re dealing with an ongoing conflict of wanting to invest – at the very least emotionally – in where we’re living, while “knowing” that one day we will leave.

This is how one astute person put it:

“After you’ve spent more than five years here, you stop thinking of it as a working holiday-in-the-sun and start thinking about it as a long-term proposition.”

This is the story of another entrepreneur who certainly thought of the UAE as a long-term home, albeit temporary: since 2008 he has ploughed more than Dh10 million of profit back into the UAE. Two decades on he’s throwing in the towel.

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“My original long-range plan was to live in Dubai until 2025, I’m just leaving 11 years early. Why? I can’t pinpoint any one thing that pushed me over the edge on one fell swoop. It has been about three years coming, more and more discontent, more and more discussing the value of being in Dubai vis-a-vis somewhere else.

“In April of this year our sponsor told us he was going to change the terms of our agreement and wanted more money. Then our trade licence that we have had with no problems since 2007 kept getting rejected over and over again, then our warehouse landlord raised our rents by nearly 100 per cent. At that point my CFO got fed up and recommended we close shop since our profit margins had dropped to very low single digits. I held out for four more months but I’m now done. It just isn’t worth it any more. “

The key for success is sustainability. The ability of people to sustain themselves, and if they can then by default a city can sustain itself too.

Not too long ago, people suffered the immense stress of having to leave their lives behind either because they were pushed – downsizing, going bust and so on – or because they ran. No one wants that to happen again.

Back to the entrepreneur: “Would I do it all over again? Yes. What would I do different?”

Well, suffice to say that he would have prioritised his ‘forever home’ as a place to invest in.

He ends with this:

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not leaving Dubai destitute but I sure am a lot less well off then if I had left in 2008-09 or even if I hadn’t started any of my companies. Sad but I’ll pick myself up and do it all over again.”

This person isn’t living hand-to-mouth – but many here are. There is a clear call for help from a growing number of expats, along with a desire to make things work for them so that they can continue to live and work in the UAE.

While you think over your own situation, I will leave you with another line from the poem:

We defended this town saying how great it will be

At the end of the day, it’s just “Me, Me, Me, Me.”

Nima Abu Wardeh is the founder of the personal finance website cashy.me. You can reach her at nima@cashy.me


Dragana stopped blogging?

I’ve found this search term on my blog today “Dragana stopped blogging”. Please, be informed that I didn’t stop blogging, I just said everything that I had to say.

As a result of my articles EKAS department is freed from bullying and unprofessional behaviour of a bad mannered and uneducated person by the name Anoma Manuel and following HR SVPs were terminated from the service:

  • Sophia Panayiotou, Senior Vice President Human Resources Business Support,
  • Katarina Ciumei, Senior Vice President Human Resources (Remuneration and Planning),
  • Rick Helliwell, Vice President – Corporate Leadership and Talent Management.

Although all of this means that I was right all the time, nobody from EK called me to apologize or to fulfil their obligations towards me. This speaks enough for itself. There is nobody in Emirates Airline capable enough to lead the company anywhere else than in the complete and total human resource disaster and maybe a bankruptcy as well. Of course, nobody will believe this until it actually happens.

I got offers from some EK passengers who want me to open a special page for them on my blog, where they can talk about bad customer service and negligence they are getting from EK. I am not sure whether to do that as damaging the image of EK was never my goal. Employees’ well-being is, on the other hand, my goal.

This web address is always open for everyone who wants to publish their stories and cases.

My e-mail address is dragana.blog.ek@gmail.com and if you are experiencing any kind of injustice or harassment and you want to talk about it in public (and anonymously), do not hesitate to send me an e-mail any time.


Failure of recruitment policy in Emirates Airline

Somebody has sent me this news recently, with just one question in the subject of the e-mail “Where is Emirates Airline?”:

Etihad, Fly Dubai named best airlines in the world. 

My answer was: Emirates is where they deserve to be. At the end of the day, every company is where they deserve to be. No doubt in that.

There are many lists made by many stakeholders, individuals or organizations. Many of them are pre-ordered and well paid for. Don’t believe everything you read. Whoever has the money, they will pay for their name to be first in magazines, internet searches and news. Make no mistake, Airline Industry is highly competitive. Too many airlines, too many flights, too expensive fuel. Some airlines have to take care of their employees because laws make them to. Some companies take care of their staff because they know that excellent customer service will give them competitive advantage in long terms, when things in the air start to be too overcrowded. Some of them decided to exploit people by paying them much less then they deserve or by asking much more work than staffs are paid for, in order to keep the planes flying. I will not ask the obvious question “which airlines are going to survive in the end?”, because the obvious answer is “the smartest ones”. It is always smarter to think in long terms, but not everyone is capable for that, especially when greed and false sense of power take over rational thinking.

So, I don’t know if this article was pre-ordered, but this choice is very well reasoned, and there are factual reasons why Emirates Airline is not in this article.

Arabian Business Article

Arabian Business Article

Etihad is on this list for its readiness to make partnerships with other airlines and this is very true. For example, Etihad has its shares in AirSerbia, and they became partners recently. There are no bigger doors to European Union than those, since Serbia is on its fast way to EU and they will pull Etihad with them.

Fly Dubai is known among Emirates Airline staff as a company where all staffs want to escape to. So, after two years of working in EK, staffs who didn’t resign already, massively apply for positions in Fly Dubai. Salary is bigger and it seems that Fly Dubai is really investing in their image by not letting just any scandal to go into public, unlike Emirates Airline.

But this is the thing nobody tells you at your Open or Assessment day in Emirates Airline: if you sign the contract with them, you’re stuck with them and you can’t change your (Middle East airline) employer for at least two years. EK has agreements with Etihad, Fly Dubai and Qatar Airways which forbid those airlines to accept EK staff unless they have worked with EK for minimum two years. This is just another human rights violation as well: you lose your right to choose an employer and you’re stuck with one or you resign. So, those of you who are still choosing which Middle East airline you want to work for, choose carefully as you can’t change it later or it would be very difficult at least. And, if your new employer is interested in you, as soon as they realize that you have worked for Emirates Airline, they will consider you either as “damaged goods” (if they know about awful working conditions inside EK and all the world’s airline insiders know about it) or “unreliable” (because you are leaving such a “good” company and “well paid” job; if they are not familiar with EK’s reality).

Frivolous recruitment policy in Emirates Airline

SVP HRBS's interview for HR portal

SVP HRBS’s interview for an HR portal

When SVP HRBS Sophia Panayiotou‘s contract was terminated recently,I have conducted a little research online and I’ve found some of Ms.Sophia’s interviews for HR magazines and portals. One is particularly interesting as it perfectly illustrates the emptiness of a recruitment policy in EK. If these unimaginative and stereotypical answers, without any concrete and meaningful fact given, were a recruitment policy for decades, then no wonder that EK has an internal disaster with staff’s turnover rate and resignations.

  • The whole interview is like transcribed from some HR Manual, without any understanding for the subject and EK reality.
  • For example, HR management has never tried to “retain” staff in the company. Their unofficial policy is “resign if you’re not happy”.
  • HR management’s “honest” communication with staff occurs only when they need to notify employees that Muslims will work less and be paid more during the Ramadan and that Employee Regulations Manual has been changed (without staff’s consent or signature). It is a one way and autocratic communication.
  • “Competitive salary, personal growth and benefits” are reserved only for managerial positions. All the rest get exploitation and undignified life and working conditions.
  • Surveys are really conducted every year, but their results are never published or presented as a feedback to employees. Ms.Sophia told in the interview that these surveys have high response rates, but staff never got a proof for this as we never got any feedback on our answered survey questions or complaints.
  • Ms. Sophia also said in her interview that all employees have a chance to meet an HR official and to talk with them, but when I sent her a complaint on workplace harassment she never replied nor she ever intervened when a group of staff complained about forced overtime and inhumane shifts. Nor her, nor any other HR manager whose basic role IS to take care of the staff.
  • Internal recruitment is just a phrase which has a meaning only when upgrading staff from grade 4 to grade 5 (which is, basically, the same). People for higher positions are recruited externally and existing staffs are kept on the same positions for years (unless they’ve managed to get wasta/connection inside EK management).
  • Higher salary is given to the people who have western or local passports, which is an outrageous example of a pure discrimination

When you go to Emirates Airline website, you can find a job opening. If you read it closely you will see that this opening was posted in January this year and is STILL OPEN for applications. This is due to huge staff turnover rate and massive staff’s resignations, so Emirates Airline is always short of staff. No company, especially airline company, is that successful to hire people for the SAME positions throughout the hole year.

Another failure of EK recruitment policy is presenting “living and working in Dubai” as a benefit itself. With money that you get as a salary, you can only watch others how they enjoy expensive Dubai and you can rarely travel with discounted plane tickets as you have no money to survive in Dubai and you have no time, since you are constantly working and sleeping.

Presenting “living in Dubai” as a working benefit just proves how lazy and uninterested HR managers are for doing the job they are paid for. This kind of policy has never intended to retain staff and make them happy, but only to use them and throw them back to their home countries when they are too exhausted or sick to work, with no medical insurance compensations and, very often, with no end of service money.

Job opening in Emirates Airline open for almost one year already

Job opening in Emirates Airline open for almost one year already

It turns out that Emirates Airline robes their own employees in order to have money for sponsoring all the football and tennis teams and events where their brand is advertised. 

The failure of recruitment policy in EK lies in the fact that they’ve got better employees than they deserve. Someone would argue that this is not a failure. I would reply that it is a big failure when you fail to keep those people in the company and, moreover, you even manage to make them feel like they have no value whatsoever. 


Is Emirates Airline among 50 companies best to work for?

When I supposed to go to Ms. Anoma Manuel’s office for a meeting, I have printed out a list of 10 companies which are the best to work for and 10 companies which crumbled due to management’s greediness. I never showed her those lists since that meeting turned into complete surprise, especially as Amanda Maxwell – MHR-HRBS-EKAS & SKYCARGO was present. Ms. Amanda’s  behaviour was far away from professional as she told me in one moment (in a hysterical manner) – “I’ve had enough of you!”. All I did was telling Ms. Anoma and Ms. Amanda that I think that Dubai Labour Law is violated, and I’ve got this reaction from Ms. Amanda. I was surprised at first. Never in my professional life I have seen such a condescending behaviour of one manager towards their staff. Later on, when I got to know Ms. Amanda better, I’ve seen her treating employees like children, speaking with them in a, paradoxically, immature and inappropriate way. Ms. Amanda Maxwell also told me that I will “never advance in this company because I will always be known as a girl who wrote five pages e-mail to DVP” (my warning appeal). I was honestly startled with this sentence as well, since it is inconceivable for me that one HR manager can threaten their employee in such a shameless way. I have asked Ms. Amanda about the meaning of this statement at our Open forum, but it was explained to me that I have “misunderstood” her. Ms. Sophia Panayiotou former SVP HRBS even included this question of mine in the list of reasons why I was fired.

I will publish another article about Ms. Amanda soon enough, since she is an HR manager who has a direct contact with EKAS staff.

Seems like my intention to present a list of companies best to work for was prophetic because Emirates Airline president Tim Clark wanted to use the results of a recent survey about employees’ satisfaction in Emirates Airline (conducted soon after publication of Open Letter to His Highness Ahmed) to put EK on the list of 50 companies best to work for, apparently. According to my source (screenshots below the article), survey results were devastating, so presidency decided to terminate contracts of several SVPs and VPs. And while we are waiting for the official result of this survey (although we can not trust it much), we can only speculate about names of managers whose contracts have been terminated:

  • Sophia Panayiotou, SVP HRBS,
  • Katarina Ciumei, SVP HR (Remuneration and Planning),
  • Rick Helliwell, VP – Corporate Leadership and Talent Management.

Some of the managers were just moved to another position, so besides Anoma Manuel, former DVP EKASKevin Griffits, SVP Cabin Crew was moved to another position as well. If I made a mistake in this list, please do notify me. I am ready to apologize if I am mistaken or if I have a wrong information.

Seems that presidency didn’t know or did not want to know the true, catastrophic state of working conditions inside their own company. And while we can read all over the internet how Emirates “can hardly train its staff fast enough” due to “high business demands and huge and successful company expansion”, only thousands of cabin crews and ground staffs who resigned, can testify about the true nature of these fast recruitments and trainings: due to massive staff dissatisfaction, cabin crew (and all the other staff) massively resign, so Emirates Airline has no other choice than to quickly hire new staff to cover the lack of staff on board and at the airport.

I have also heard the story that cabin crews are forced to return from long flights travelling on duty travel tickets (if the type of the aircraft is, for some reason, changed at the destination and company doesn’t need all crews from the first flight). Extra crews are sent back to Dubai as regular passengers so that company doesn’t need to pay them their flight hours for a return flight. If the new aircraft requires more staff, existing cabin crews just work more for the same pay cheque.

I will conclude this article with my two cents: the answer to the question from the title is a big NO. A company which brutally exploits its employees, endangering their health and mental conditions, for, often, barely surviving salary (of 700 euros, which is how much ground staffs have), with almost no opportunity for advancement and very present nepotismcorruption, arrogant staff treatment and unfair dismissals, can only be listed on some very unpopular and unflattering list.

HR SVPs fired.

HR SVPs fired.

VP fired.

VP fired.

Cabin Crew is suffering

Cabin Crew is suffering


Workplace harassment in Emirates Airline

Harassment at work is an omnipresent thing in Emirates Airline. This is due to undeveloped organisational culture and lack of education among EK managers.

Emirates Airline had a bad luck (or bad HR department?) to get some people with “slave holder” mentality on top positions. And while this kind of mentality was certainly efficient in the disturbing times when people were forced to pick the cotton for their “owners”, these times are different and humanity agreed about something called The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, it is possible today that some people reach high positions of VP, SVP, DVP, etc. still not being familiar with this Declaration. People with this kind of mentality are usually weak and always afraid that they’re not capable enough to cope with their responsibilities, so they use bullying and force, misusing their positions, to scare and threaten others, so that their incapability remains invisible. This is why I will write about harassment at work in this article which has the aim to raise the awareness of a workplace harassment in EK.

7174-HARASSMENT3

Workplace harassment is:

  • the offensive, belittling or threatening behavior directed at an individual worker or a group of workers[1]
  • the odious dealing through pitiless, malevolent, hurtful or embarrassing attempts to undermine an individual worker or groups of workers.[2]

Recently, matters of workplaceharassment have gained interest among practitioners and researchers as it is becoming one of the most sensitive areas of effective workplace management. In Oriental countries, it attracted lots of attention from researchers and governments since the 1980s, because a significant source of work stress is associated with aggressive behaviors at workplace.[3] Third world countries are far behind oriental countries in that there are limited efforts to investigate the questions on workplace harassment. It is almost unseen and the executive leaders (managers) are almost reluctant or unconscious about it in the third world countries.[2] Under occupational health and safety laws around the world,[4] workplace harassment and workplace bullying are identified as being core psychosocial hazards.[5]

This is a definition from Wikipedia. I would not use the term “Oriental”, since there are some really developed oriental countries (Japan, South Korea, China) which have implemented the concept of human and labour rights a long time ago. Nevertheless, I will use this definition and my case with former DVP EKAS Anoma Manuel as an example of a workplace harassment.

First of all, Emirates Airline has a policy on work related molestation of employees. Even if Ms.Anoma doesn’t read EK manuals, HR managers should know them by heart because they are the ones who write them. But it seems like EK HR high managers don’t read their own manuals as well.

For your information, this is the Emirates Airline Manual on Harassment which you can use if you are harassed by your colleague or boss.

C6-5 Avoidance Of Harassment

Context

1. Definition

2. Policy

3. Required Action By Employee

Context
The Company’s overall policy is to act with care and consistency in dealing with individual employees at all times. This is given as one of the principles in the Employment Regulation on “Code of Conduct and Business Ethics”. Details of how this policy/principle will be applied, are given below.
This policy covers the work place only. The Company cannot extend the coverage to outside the work place unless there is a very clear overlap or linkage between events and/or persons, so as to adversely affect work performance.
1. Definition
1.1
Harassment is defined as a regular and repeated pattern of behaviour between people, during interactive situations in the work/business environment, which is considered intolerable or offensive, because it is based on or includes forms of behaviour given in paragraph 1.2.
1.2
Harassment takes many forms including, but not restricted to, physical contact ranging from touching to assault, domineering and bullying behaviour, verbal and written interaction through offensive jokes and language, gossip, threats, distasteful photographs or pictures, mimicking, anonymous letters, emails, sms, telephone and mobile  calls.
1.3
Harassment does not exist merely on the basis of setting regular or repetitive performance targets, unless the method of describing these is accompanied by forms of behaviour given in paragraph 1.2.
2. Policy
2.1
The Company accepts the right of every staff member to a working environment free from harassment and will take appropriate steps to promote and maintain such an environment.
2.2
The Company will not accept that any employee should give or be subject to any form of harassment. The Company will provide protection for employees who consider that they are being harassed.
2.3
The Company is opposed to any form of harassment being practised against its employees or potential employees on the grounds of their race, creed, nationality, gender, marital status, age, colour, physical or mental disability, religious or sexual persuasion, or as given in the Definition above.
2.4
The Company will provide the means to address problems as quickly as possible, and as near as possible to the level at which the problem arises. All reports will be treated seriously and without prejudice to employees or their careers.
2.5
An employee who in good faith, reports an incident of alleged harassment of whatever form, will not suffer any penalty for doing so.
2.6
Retaliation against an employee for having complained of being involved in harassment will be deemed to be harassment itself and will be treated as a disciplinary offence.
2.7
An employee who repeats harassment action after an initial warning, will be subject to disciplinary action which could include termination.
3. Required Action By Employee
3.1
Employees should ensure that they do not harass a colleague or colleagues.
3.2
Employees should report any form of harassment as outlined under “Definition” above, provided it is supported by recorded factual details of each incident. The report should be to the appropriate Line Manager or Manager Human Resources.
3.3 Employees who observe what they consider to be unacceptable behaviour, are encouraged to report factually on behalf of the harassed colleague.

You can hear my whole story on the audio record from Termination Appeal Meeting with Ms.Michelle Carswell and Mr.Mohammad Mattar.

Long story short – the whole “molestation situation” with Ms.Anoma Manuel began when I have “replied to all recipients” in the e-mail which I got from admin, notifying me that I have to go to the training on my day off otherwise “penalty applies”.

This is the point where Ms.Anoma showed a serious lack of knowledge about labour rights and her staff’s contracts (this is nothing new, since Ms.Anoma also didn’t know that her staff has a 7 hours shift without a break. You can hear that on the audio record from the Open Forum).

Uneducated and weak personality managers are the huge sore point of Emirates Airline, because they make this gigantic company look like a concentration camp. At the same time, there are many, many check in agents, for example, who are much more educated and better mannered than former DVP EKAS and many EKAS managers. This situation was the core of the catastrophe which happened in EKAS. That department is ruined, so now a new DVP Walter Riggans has to repair the damage. He started with cancelling the new “ABC” check in and boarding system which was implemented forcefully while Ms.Anoma was there.

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So, Ms. Anoma called me for a meeting several times “to talk about my e-mail” and several times she cancelled the meeting. I don’t know if Ms. Anoma is aware, but this is a pure psychological harassment (intimidation) – employee has to prepare for the meeting with nobody else but the very DVP, and DVP is prolonging the stressful situation by delaying the meeting. By doing this, Ms.Anoma showed very severe disrespect for her staff. Third time when Ms.Anoma scheduled the meeting, I called sick due to heavy headache and nausea. At the same time I was constantly “warned” by my supervisors and duty officers that I am “monitored” by the management.

I went to the forced training, under the stress, and I didn’t agree with the trainer that we “have two options in the company – to find the happiness inside or to resign”. I disagreed in a very civilized manner, but majority of trainers and managers in EK are not aware of the concept of “civilized discussion” and the fact that “if you are not with me, you are against me” is not true. (Local) trainer complained on me, and Ms.Anoma was happy to give me the warning, although all the witnesses from the training confirmed that there was no arguing at the class and that we were just discussing Richard Branson’s thesis about the importance of staff’s happiness.

ASM (airport services manager) who gave me the warning told me that it is “from Ms.Anoma” and that she told me that this time “I have to schedule a meeting with her” if I want to talk about my warning. This was already even beyond bullying, as it was, by my opinion, a pure revenge because I didn’t come to a third scheduled meeting with her.

Anoma Manuel, former DVP EKAS

Anoma Manuel, former DVP EKAS

I left it as it was. I didn’t go to Ms.Anoma and I kept quiet, continuing to do my job. But, I was already under the huge pressure, shaken by meetings, interrogations and stress.

I have got my final warning for a (local – this is important thing to say, because staff is often given a warning when a passenger with a western or local passport complains on staff) passenger. Passenger went against my instructions aggressively, I told the staff that passenger is not checked in and not to check her in, because I have instructed her where to go, and the passenger made a whole drama which nobody, from a supervisor, via duty officer, ASM and MAS (manager airport services) COULDN’T RESOLVE. This speaks a lot about management capability. Hysterical passenger got an upgrade, and I got a final warning, although I was just doing my job (guiding the passengers to the right counters), I didn’t offend or yell at the passenger. Many passengers know that if they make a fuss, they will get everything they want, so passengers use that strategy a lot. Management, on the other hand, doesn’t want to take the responsibility and stop this practice. Instead, they are wasting company’s money and punishing staff.

Ms.Anoma was happy to arrange this warning as well.

Only after all of this torture I came to the Open Forum and asked Ms.Anoma about her salary. After all the “inappropriate behaviour” that she consciously did, mine was almost benign, provoked by serious bullying that Ms. Anoma and EKAS management conducted over me.

harassment (1)

This is a pure example of a ruthless workplace mobbing and I hope that it will serve to all managers and staff to get familiar with this concept as it is very harmful for such an ambitious company as EK is.

Paradoxically, the final move on this whole story was made by HR management which didn’t make a tiniest effort to respond to the complaint of mine, let alone to take some actions. They fired me instead. And wanted to put me in prison.

If you ever decide to file a complaint on harassment (I hope that after all that happened with my complaint, HR managers will not dare to fire harassed complainants again), this is how it should look like (remember to read the Manual first and to mention all the parts of the Manual which were violated in your case, describing the way they were violated and all the events). I also hope that outstations’ staff will not be endangered by Ms.Anoma Manuel’s and her bosses’ bullying behaviour, as much as hub staff was.

If Emirates Airline is serious in becoming the biggest and the best airliner in the world, they will have to stop the practices where their own management (including HR managers!) violates company’s manuals.

This complaint was sent to (former?) SVP HR Sophia Panayiotou, SVP HR Masooma Hassan and EVP/COO Adel Ahmad Al Redha.

Nobody replied.

Dear Ms Sophia, Ms Massooma and Mr Redha,

My name is Dragana and I work as a check-in agent. I was regruted abroad and my profession is graduated HR Manager with a master degree.
Forgive me for not being specific in chapters of the Employee Regulations Manual below in the text since I only have a copy of couple of relevant pages with me in the moment of writing this e-mail.
I would like to file an official complaint of harassment over me done by EKAS DVP Anoma Manuel in accordance with:
No 1 Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – 2. General Guidelines – 2.3.2. Gross Misconduct – Discrimination or harassment of employees or member of the public
I would like to report serious violation of Employee Regulations Manual done by DVP Anoma Manuel in accordance with:
No 2  Employee Regulations Manual – Chapter missing – 1. Personal Conduct – 1.2. Employees are prohibited from using their position and authority to further their personal interest.
No 3  Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – 3. Disciplinary hearings – 3.2.2 For formal hearings  the employee will be given written notice as is reasonable given the nature of the misconduct and the preparation time required. This, however, will not be less than 24 hours so the employee can prepare for the hearing. The notice will contain details of the alleged misconduct.
No 4  Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – 4. Disciplinary Action Sequence – 4.2 Written warning
No 5  Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – 4. Disciplinary Action Sequence – 4.3 Final written warning
No 6  Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – Section C6-3 (C) – 1. Appeals – 1.2. The employee will be given five working days (from the date the decision is conveyed) to appeal against the decision in writing to the Appeal Authority. If a written appeal is not received within this period, the action taken will be deemed final and binding.
No 7  Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – Section C6-3 (C) – 1. Appeals – 1.6. The Appeal Authority will generally give a decision within 5 working days after the hearing.
And I would like to seek your immediate protection from torture that I am exposed to at my working place in accordance with:
No 8 Employee Regulations Manual – Chapter missing – 12. Respect for the individual – The company will act with care and consistency in dealing with individual employees at all times.
I have already asked an appointment with a Group psychologist, since I am feeling depressed and very stressed out.
I will try to explain what happened, although this unbearable situation is lasting for almost half of a year now, with culmination in the last few days.
As you may or may not know, in answer of every day complaints and resignations of staff at EKAS department, DVP Ms Anoma Manuel organized Open Forums for all staff to give them “opportunity to be heard”. I was attending the last forum in series, which was conducted on 21St of July. During the forum I asked Ms Anoma several questions. My feeling was that I was ignored, bullied and silenced during the whole timings of the forum.
After the forum I was called for the Disciplinary Meeting. I was notified that the reason is “Inappropriate behaviour”, without any other given details. I have assumed that I am called regarding my participation on the Open forum. Now, I have an audio record of everything that was happening at the forum, so everyone can conclude and decide who was behaving unprofessional and inappropriate during the forum, that is a separate issue. But this is the moment when I want to report that the Disciplinary procedure from the Employee Regulations Manual (No 3 in above text) was violated. I should receive any written notice about Disciplinary Hearing 24 hours in advance. I have received a text message by Shaher Banu on my phone at 3:02 pm inviting me for the Hearing on the next day at 12:00 am. Since I had duty yesterday from 5pm, I saw the message only when I came to the airport at 4:50 pm.
When i reached the airport I have opened my e-mail and I saw an invitation for a Disciplinary Hearing from Shaher Banu (with Mr Rami El Samra and HRM Amanda Maxwell in cc). I have replied to that e-mail, explaining that it is impossible for me to come at 12am next day, since I am working until 3am, that I need my sleep and I need time to find available witness. Mr Rami El Samra answered my e-mail, notifying me that I will be released from my duty at midnight. I answered to that e-mail that it is still impossible for me to prepare psychologically and to find my witness. Mr Rami did not send any reply after that.
Around 9pm I have got the call from RTC notifying me to go to MAS office. When I went there, MAS notified me that Ms Anoma sent him an e-mail in the early afternoon about my early release. I have told to MAS that I have already notified Mr Rami about my difficulties to attend the Disciplinary meeting. MAS sent e-mail to Ms Anoma and I stayed at my duty until 3pm.
Now, this is a very painful and stressful situation for me. I was not given a legal notice for preparation and I was feeling forced to come to the meeting (after my tiring night shift), although I did not have time to find my witness (given the fact that most of my friends and colleagues are afraid to be witnesses because of the constant latent threat that they will lose their jobs if they support me).
I am also feeling prosecuted and punished for saying my opinion on the Open Forum that had an aim to enable staff to tell their opinions and ask questions. This is outrageous for me, I am not used to this severe violation of my right to express my opinion in a polite way. I am shocked by this Disciplinary Meeting invitation since I did absolutely nothing wrong and I have a proof for that. I consider this for a ruthless harassment at my working place.
Reading Employee Regulations Manual, I found out that I haven’t done any of Misconduct or Gross Misconduct acts.
I am constantly punished and called for meetings and hearings for the last couple of months. It is happening since I have expressed to Ms Anoma my desire to be treated as a human being and not a slave.
  1. Ms Anoma is forcing me to come to work on my days off.
  2. Ms Anoma is giving me shifts of 12 hours with one hour break (which gives me the chance to eat only once in 14 hours, including transport).
  3. Ms Anoma is giving me the whole shift of 7 hours without any break.
  4. Ms Anoma is making me attend trainings on my day offs, and then, if I do not show up, she is taking 500 dirhams from my salary to punish me.
  5. Ms Anoma is giving me only 5 hours to sleep, depriving me from my sleep.
  6. Ms Anoma imposed rule of fear at the airport where everyone are afraid of warnings and terminations.
  7. A few days ago my e-mail account was restricted for communication with all grade 4 and 5 staff. I am not sure who did this, but it is a very serious attempt to isolate me from my friends and colleagues.
  8. I have a lot more issues with Ms Anoma, but the most important one, which violated Employee Regulations Manual is when she violated Written Warning procedure.
Recently, I had an issue with a passenger who would not listen to my instructions, behaving aggressive and dangerous. In accordance with company safety rules, I have instructed the staff not to check in the passenger and, since the passenger was shouting on me, I expressed my intention to call a police to protect myself. After this issue I was called for hearing, because passenger complained on my conduct. Several procedures were violated during this process:
1. My hearing was held IN FRONT of the passenger, so I did not have a proper chance to defend myself.
2. My solo hearing was not held on the same day when incident happened, but only several days later, in the presence of HR manager.
3. I have got a written warning for this incident (explanation was that “I have no right to refuse anyone’s check in since I am not security and that I have no right to call the police.” When I have expressed my feeling that I was psychologically attacked by the passenger, I got the answer from my ASM that “there is no such thing as a psychological harassment in this company”).
4. I had a witness to this incident whom nobody called to tell her perception of the incident.
5. I have got the copy and a notification about this Written warning on 20th June (Friday), but the Warning was dated 18 June. Since I had 5 days to appeal, I was left with only ONE day to send my appeal and I have a proof for that since MAS agreed to sign my actual date of getting the warning.
6. I had Appeal Hearing Meeting regarding this warning, where I have presented new evidences that procedure was not respected accordingly, in front of DVP Anoma Manuel and HR Manager Amanda Maxwell. It was around one month ago. I haven’t got any reply on my appeal, although the legal dead line is 5 days, as written in Employee Regulations Manual (No 7 in above text).
Since I have not got the answer to my appeal, this warning should be erased from my HR direct, but it is still there.
Ms Anoma Manuel is misusing her, almost unlimited, power to haunt me, bully me and scare me.
I am just a grade 4 staff and my hands are completely tightened. It is hard for me to my voice to even be heard, because my position is so much lower than Ms Anoma’s. I am tired and depressed of fighting for my voice to be heard. I am exhausted, and before I seek protection from my embassy or from some court of law (local or international), I have decided to ask you to stand in my protection, because I have no one other. I have left my whole life in my country, my parents, my friends and my job in order to come and work for Emirates. I have explained in this e-mail which parts of Employee Regulations Manual Ms Anoma has brutally violated and I have concrete proofs for all of them.
Please, help me. 
Sincerely yours,
Dragana
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