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.
Another blog update from Mr Tom Burgess, former Senior Vice President of Emirates Group IT.
The blog is about rotten EK management structure and corrupted, dishonest, incapable and manipulative senior EK managers with Gary Chapman, president Group Services and Dnata, as their leader.
I have previously provided my thoughts and experiences of the other four members of what I affectionately (honestly!) call the ‘Gang of Five’, so now I turn my attention to Gary Chapman. Like most people who have worked in the Emirates Group, I have heard many stories about, and views of, Gary Chapman. This is natural, given his position. But I will base what I write solely on my own experiences. Gary Chapman was happy to see me fired based on second hand information which was not true, but that is no excuse for me to alter my standards. I will cover my personal experiences with him later on in this update, but I will first make some observations on what we can all see.
The Emirates Group is in disarray. Profits are down, Group headcount is far in excess of what can be afforded and staff morale was low even before the redundancy programmes commenced. For a number of years everyone has seen the need for serious change, but all we have observed at the top has been a serious case of paralysis. The situation is now so bad that someone from outside of the Group has been brought in to sort out the mess. The acute problems in the airline cannot be laid directly at Gary Chapman’s door and I am sure that the Group has enjoyed a steady flow of income thanks to Gary’s business acumen, but the performance of support areas for which he has responsibility has been a major contributor to the problems that are now evident.
Bringing in a highly experienced fresh pair of hands is a good start, but I wonder how the obvious changes that are required are going to be implemented. When I was in the Group, I did not meet anyone who had experience of complex and major change programmes. There was limited depth in terms of day to day man management skills and, apart from the late Sir Maurice Flanagan, nobody was seen as a traditional ‘leader’. Combined, these issues posed a significant risk so the Leadership Development initiative was launched. But what has that achieved? Demonstrably very little as the Emirates Group management structure remains as it has been for many years, just layer upon layer of supervisors, each ascending level proudly boasting an even bigger capital S. Who has responsibility for Leadership Development? Gary Chapman.
Since I never looked forward to Emirates Group falling apart, on this occasion I will not write a long article about the fact that we all knew that management’s eternal arrogance and incapability will lead to employees massively losing their jobs and Emirates Airline slowly vanishing from the map of succesful airlines.
To be honest, Emirates had a potential. That potential has grown to greedy company’s growth and abuse of labour and human rights. There were many warning signs, including this blog, but there was nobody to listen.
Now, some announced changes may improve the alarming situation, but people will lose their jobs and the company lost its reputation so the damage is already irreparable. It could all be prevented if there were just a few people in the top management who didn’t lose their touch with reality and who respected the front line employees who, actually, do the job, instead of caring only about their bonuses and power.
I’ve got these few photos from a Dnata employee. They present e-mails which Dnata employees got recently, notifying them that DnataTravel’s revenues are down 13% and that sales have decreased 14% and that there will be redundancies. Shame.
I wish Emirates Group good luck and I wish them to get rid of all the corrupted managers who threaten their employees with prison. I also advise them to pay their employees deserved end of service money and to treat them with dignity.
I’ve read this article on Yahoo Lifestyle yesterday and wondered how far can a pursuit for the profit go? And does doing business these days means only flooding the media with stories which promote your desirable image? Does any CEO or business owner today thinks they can resolve their inner organizational and human resources problems with a few positive image articles on the internet? How long before managers figure out that they cannot beat the internet because it gives an equal power to everyone, including those whose voice managers don’t want to hear?
I am not glad to see that EK managers hadn’t learned much about running the long lasting business. They are still trying to mask the problems with the old “high class lifestyle” public discourse, while their company is falling apart from the inside.
Is it that human conscience is limited with its own mortality so much that managers simply don’t care what will happen after they go, or they simply don’t know how to think in future terms? Maybe combination of both, but, in the meantime, while EK is struggling with its limited managers whose only job is, it seems, to drink Costa coffee in the HQ Costa cafe and to make sure that internet gets its daily dose of “Emirates high class lifestyle” articles, this blog will publish not so glamorous stories about the real lifestyle inside Emirates Airline.
I’ve got this story as a comment on my blog and decided to publish it as an article because I had similar health issues while I was working in EK (without health insurance!). When your employer doesn’t care about your health, I guess you have to take care of yourself and the internet can be a good doctor in the world which recognizes only money for its supreme leader.
“Dragna, I have been following your blog for about 2 years. I’ve resigned from EK in 2013.
I left because I felt we as crew were not treated fairly, there was no Support system we could rely on.
2012 I was diagnosed with a begnine tumor in my uterus, and after pleading with my manager to let me come home for the operation (because they wanted me to have the surgery in Dubai, and if so, I’m pretty sure I would have died,since I had complication during it), I was allowed one month for surgery and recovery.
Obviously it took more than one month, and while recovering I was stressing out, because I kept seeing flights being rostered, and, just because I hadn’t sent my doctor’s letter on time (I was at the hospital) stating that I was still in hospital and could not return.
There was no one in charge to contact directly (they were closed for Eid) and instead of being relaxed and advancing on my recovery, I was freaking out.
It was one of the most horrific experiences of my life.
Later I found out that the reason that tumor had developed was due to hormonal inbalance caused by lack of proper nutriton, rest and stress.
In conversation with at least 7 female crew, i found out that they too had had simililar problems, and had to have surgery.
My last year at Emirates I was A380 FG1, more than once I had to eat standing and while the service was going on. I would grab a bite everytime I enter the galley and chew before I took the next item of food to the customer. With On Demand service, breaks to eat are nearly impossible.
When I came back home for good, I had medical tests done and I was diagnosed with severe anaemia, not to mention that I fell into deep depression which I’m still battling with.
The good times of my EK experience were completely obscured by the many bad things that happened. Sad to say it.
In some of the previous stories on this blog we have seen that EK cabin crew work in inhumane conditions, but this e-mail I’ve got from one former member of EK cabin crew shows how Emirates’ flight attendants don’t even have a meal break on their flights.
This e-mail I am sending you shows how EK has removed the meal break on long flights and how the crew are not able to seat and eat on the flights:
The stations (only) were given a revision in their policies manual which removed the need to soft block seats (therefore depriving the crew from having adequate seating to have their meal break. In April this year the company issued a revision to the outstation policies manual putting the soft block policy back. For 7 years the cabin crew manual still had the soft block policy in place and it was a requirement to have the meal break but of course we were never given it because we didn’t have the seats arranged. The company don’t allow us to eat in the jump seats facing the passengers (95% of Jump seats).
That email shows how management have:
1. Removed a rest policy without informing the crew (and the crew are responsible for adhering to rest policies)
2. Have willfully changed a GCAA controlled document (the manual) without sanction from the regulator.
3. Known that this discrepancy between the two manuals is causing confusion.
4. Known that crew already have difficulty having a meal break due to the configuration of the A380 as most of the jump seats are in the cabin and not the galley and the company prioritising the image concern of crew eating versus allowing them to have a legally required meal break.
5. Introduced two services on a 5:30 flight so that there is no possibility for the crew to even have a meal break.
6. Placed the responsibility on the purser for giving the meal break and in the event that a safety incident occurred (like a crew being so fatigued that they open the cabin door with the escape slide armed or they give the wrong medication to a passenger having a heart attack) the management could always turn to the crew and say: there is a meal break in the manual… Why did you not take the meal break?
The same person has also sent me this e-mail:
I found out that EK did an illegal flight from Dubai to Munich, where the crew and pilots operated the flight and had a rest of 8 hours, when the minimum rest required is 11 hours. but because there was a technical problem on another airplane, they called another set of crew and pilots to do this flight and they gave them less than the minimum rest, and everything goes normal for EK, breaking the rules and even after the accident, they didn’t seem to learn that they were very very lucky for no passenger or crew to die on that one. They are pushing everyone to the limit till another one happens and with fatalities, because they have money and they simply don’t care for human lives.
From EK’s internal cabin crew flight schedule system