PARIS- Air France is hitting some turbulence as it restarts flights to Iran, with female flight attendants taking action against new uniform instructions.
Union leaders and management for the flight company are meeting Monday about objections to a memo telling female attendants they must wear the pants version of their uniform, rather than the skirt option, on the flights to Tehran, as well as a “loose-fitting jacket and headscarf” before exiting their planes, the AP reports.
Now that economic sanctions on Iran are lifted, Air France will begin running three flights a week between Paris and Tehran on April 17, after eight years without service between the two countries.
Union leaders said that the headscarf mandate infringes on the attendants’ personal freedoms which is illegal in France.
They want flights to and from Tehran to be optional for flight attendants, and one leader said Air France authorities had floated the possibility of consequences for staff who wouldn’t comply with the uniform specifications.
“They are forcing us to wear a 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,” said union leader Françoise Redolfi.
Unions for Air France cabin crew held talks with management on Monday after several female crew members opposed an order to wear a headscarf in Iran, when flights to Tehran resume on April 17.
Flore Arrighi of the Unac union said before the meeting that she was expecting the airline’s head of human resources, Gilles Gateau, to come up with proposals to end the row.
The unions say company chiefs sent staff an internal memo saying that female cabin crew will be required to wear trousers during the flight with a loose fitting jacket and that they must put on a scarf covering their hair when they leave the plane.
But the union says it wants the Tehran flights to be staffed on a voluntary basis and that any staff who refuse to fly to Iran due to the headscarf rule will not have pay deducted and the refusal will not be noted on their professional record.
Caroline Rolland of the CGT union said if Air France refused the unions’ proposals, cabin crew members will bend the rules by taking the day off claiming they have a sick child, or that they themselves are ill. In that case they would lose a day’s salary.
"That’s the price to pay for refusing," she said.
Source: AFP, TIME, April 4