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Labour Ministry looks into RJ cabin crew demands following strike

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Jan 19,2020 - Last updated at Jan 19,2020

Royal Jordanian flight attendants recently held a strike to voice several demands to improve their conditions (File photo)

AMMAN — The Labour Ministry on Sunday said that it is looking into the demands of Royal Jordanian (RJ) flight attendants, who held a strike to voice several demands to improve their conditions.

The Labour Ministry received the employees, listened to their demands and promised to work to resolve the issue, the ministry’s Relations Director Adnan Dahamsheh told The Jordan Times on Sunday over the phone. 

A source who preferred to remain anonymous told The Jordan Times that the ministry has categorised the flight attendants’ demands as “internal labour dispute”, grouping them with previously voiced demands by the airline’s technical cadres. 

The demands include better processing of sick leave approval, particularly for flight attendants, the source said, noting that if an attendant wants to take a day off, they must visit the company’s office in Amman to submit the forms on the same day.

This “is not fair because if I can go there, I would just go to work, and some of us live very far”, the source said.

“Even if an attendant applies for a sick leave properly, a few months later the management might summon them and a health committee to look into the situation, and then deem the leave inappropriate and ‘unconvincing’, deducting from the personnel’s salaries,” the source charged. 

Furthermore, attendants do not take many regular leaves, and when they accumulate, the company refuses to reimburse them, the source said.

Under international standards, flight attendants must have sleeping bunks on planes, but RJ aircraft do not comply with these standards, the source said, adding that management said that personnel will be allocated the last three seats in a plane to sleep on, the source said.

“There have also been a large number of arbitrary dismissals and warnings in the case of attendants who have been with the airline for over 10 years. One such case occurred because of a false complaint by a passenger that was not even processed by an investigation committee,” the source said, noting that the “unfair dismissal is cheaper for the company”. 

The demands have been voiced and promises have been made, but “no tangible changes” have been implemented thus far, the source concluded. 

For his part, Dahamsheh said that the labour minister sent a delegation to meet with employees and record their demands alongside those previously submitted by the airline’s technical cadres through the General Union for Air Transport.

“Discussions and negotiations are still ongoing. If things are not resolved, the minister will have to intervene, and if that step is not effective, the issue will go to a council headed by the minister. The last stage will be the labour court,” Dahamsheh said.

However, he predicted that “based on RJ’s understanding and cooperation, I am sure we are going to resolve most demands, but not all of them, as some of them are unreasonable”. 

In response to the situation, the airline sent a statement to The Jordan Times in which it said that months ago the airline had received some requests from the crew at its Inflight Services through the General Union for Air Transport and Tourism.

The General Union for Air Transport and Tourism is the official union that represents all those working in the air transport industry in Jordan, the statement said.

RJ and the union “reviewed these requests thoroughly, and will soon take them into consideration”, the statement said.

“As for the few crew members who recently protested, demanding other requests, they have not approached RJ or the General Union for Air Transport and Tourism with these requests yet,” the statement concluded. 

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