Emirates in job axe climbdown

Emirates Airline was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn last week when a group of its senior managers won internal appeal claims against the carrier, Arabian Business can exclusively reveal. The eight previously dismissed staff were subsequently reinstated.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  October 16, 2005

Emirates Airline was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn last week when a group of its senior managers won internal appeal claims against the carrier, Arabian Business can exclusively reveal. The eight previously dismissed staff were subsequently reinstated. Terry Daly, Emirates’ senior vice president, service delivery, last month fired the In Flight Services (IFS) staff after having previously called a meeting to highlight the decline in service standards on the Dubai-based carrier’s flights. However, following the sackings all eight employees met with Maurice Flanagan, Emirates’ vice chairman and group president, to challenge the dismissals. A high-level Emirates official told Arabian Business: “The eight staff had individual one-on-one meeting with Flanagan over the weekend of October 1 and 2. In the meetings they were given the opportunity to give their side of the story, which they did.” Two of the eight Emirates employees were classified as manager: cabin crew (Grade 10) and were highly experienced veterans of the company. Five of the remaining six concerned staff were cabin crew managers (Grade 9) while one was an operations manager (Grade 9). All eight have since been reinstated but it is unclear in which department they will work because replacements have already been lined up for the vacant IFS positions. “They have all been reinstated to as yet undisclosed positions on the same grade in other divisions within Emirates. However, the positions are away from the IFS division where all eight previously worked,” said the airline official. The staff were told they would be reinstated two days after their appeals were made to Flanagan. Nothing has so far been shared or communicated internally about the reappointments and the airline has refused to disclose any specific details about the incident to the media. When approached, an Emirates Airline spokesperson said: “We are not going to discuss internal staff matters with Arabian Business magazine.” In an ironic twist, on the morning of the sackings three of the eight employees thought they were in line for a promotion after they were told to keep some time free. Immediately after the firings Daly delivered a speech at the Emirates Training College to explain what had happened to the trainers and managers there. Emirates has previously stated that it prides itself on its robust and objective human resources policies. As such, the airline made sure that the appeals process was dealt with in a fair and balanced way. The source said: “The reason for the appeal process is to ensure that personal agendas are removed from the disciplinary process. This has been shown to be correct in this particular situation. It is good that fairness has prevailed.” Earlier this year Emirates issued a warning to its 5600 flight attendants about service standards. A letter to senior cabin crew from Daly urged them to improve their quality of service, galley behaviour, attitude, cabin monitoring and to reduce noise levels. “I am very sad to say that we have been receiving more and more reports about our standards slipping,” said Daly in the internal memo. “I stood watching one of our peak departure periods recently and I was appalled at some of the things I saw.” Since its launch in 1985, Emirates has received more than 250 international awards in recognition of its efforts to provide high levels of customer service, including Airline of the Year and Best Customer Service. Although the carrier insists on consistently high service standards it has previously acknowledged that many of its 25,000 staff fail to meet them. “Given the scale, it is inevitable that there will be some differences in cultural outlook and in attitude. Many of our cabin crew are working in their first overseas employment ever and we appreciate that some may have difficulties in adjusting to a new and working environment,” said an airline spokesperson. “Emirates prides itself on taking customer feedback seriously. The letters to our in-flight staff were written in order to re-focus and re-engage our crew on key areas which our customers say are important,” the spokesperson added.

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