Air France face staff backlash over clothing rules


PHOTO: Nigel Treblin/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: Nigel Treblin/AFP/Getty Images

Air France cabin crew are threatening to walk off the job after instructions from airline bosses for females to wear trousers during flights to Iran and to don a “loose-fitting jacket and headscarf” before leaving the plane in Tehran.

Cabin crew representatives say the clothes are an “ostentatious religious sign” that goes against French law.

A thrice-weekly service between Paris and Tehran is set to resume on April 17, after an eight-year break, following a thaw in relations after Iran agreed to dismantle large sections of its nuclear programme.

Union leaders say the dress code is an attack on individual freedoms and the measure had to be voluntary; Air France, though, says the rules are not new and already apply to cabin crew during stop-overs in Saudi Arabia.

Christophe Pillet, of the SNPNC union and a member of the Air France staff committee, told AFP the instructions had sparked widespread concern. “Every day we have calls from worried female cabin crew who say they do not want to wear the headscarf.”

Françoise Redolfi, another union leader, told RFI radio, “They are forcing us to wear an ostentatious religious symbol. We have to let the girls choose what they want to wear. Those that don’t want to must be able to say they don’t want to work on those flights.”

“Many female members of flight crews have told us that it’s out of the question they be obliged to wear headscarves. It’s not professional and they see it as an insult to their dignity.”

In a statement, Air France said: “Iranian law requires the wearing of a veil covering the hair in public places for all women present on its territory. This obligation is not required during the flight and is respected by all international airlines serving the Iranian Republic.”



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