This paper gives a stringent analysis of the UAE carriers, which are among the fastest growing airlines in the world. According to the analysis, the airlines are employing all the strategic requirements in addressing the needs of the external environment. However, the industry has some deficit in addressing the needs of its internal affairs. Essentially, the industry workforce comprises of expatriates, who are overwhelmed with the unfavourable labour laws governing the aviation industry in UAE. The Ministry of Labour does not have regulations to protect the imperative expatriates, who play a significant role in enhancing the UAE economy. The ministry approves employment contracts that harm the helpless expatriates, who literally run the aviation industry in UAE.
Introduction: About the Industry
United Arab Emirates (UAE) carriers are widely known for their safe and secure air transport services. The president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), Shaikh Ahmed bin Maktoum, is very particular when it comes to the quality of the services that the airlines offer to the customers. Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, Qatar, Fly Dubai, and RAK are some of the airlines in the UAE. Every airline in the UAE is obligated to meet the national and international requirements of working in the aviation industry.
The airlines are committed towards expanding their network and improving their operational strategies. Etihad and Emirates airlines have publicized their intentions of acquiring stakes and collaborating with airlines in other countries to enhance their expansion and growth plans. The aviation industry in UAE is growing significantly, and currently, seven international airports in UAE operate using the most modernized equipments. The number of traffic movements through UAE is very high; so far, the Dubai international Airport is amongst the highly ranked airports with international passengers in the globe (International Transport Workers Federation par. 3). The UAE government is doing a great task in improving its infrastructure to accommodate the consistent growth of passengers. Etihad airways, Qatar airways, and Emirates are growing steadily, and currently, the three airlines have employed over 70,000 pilots. It is noteworthy that most of the cabin crews, pilots, and ground staff are expatriates, who do not have the freedom to associate and bargain for their rights.
According to the UAE economists, the aviation industry has played a great role in enhancing the UAE economy. The industry has enhanced social development, it has stimulated the development of local businesses, and it has enhanced UAE industries and all the trading activities in the country.
Labour Laws under practice in the aviation Industry
The employer-employee relationship is very important in every workplace. The Federal Ministry of Labour manages the UAE federal labour law, which helps in managing the relationship between the employee and the employer.
Employment contract laws
The UAE labour laws require the employer to have an employment contract that the employee ought to sign before accepting an employment offer. All companies operating in UAE are obligated to present their employment contracts to the Ministry of Labour for approval purposes. Essentially, the employment contracts have to meet certain standards that are in line with the labour law requirements. The contracts state the basic salary of the employee, the allowances, and the conditions for an annual leave. Moreover, the employment contracts state the amount that the employee is entitled to receive in case of injuries, diseases, or death in the course of duty. The UAE aviation industry has a detailed employment contract, which states the terms and conditions of being an employee of the airline companies.
In the employment contracts, for example, the employees are made aware that most UAE airlines do not allow employees to have unions. Therefore, the employees have some psychological preparedness that they will be defenceless in their workplace. Moreover, there are special clauses that restrict the female employees regarding their marital status, their intention of marrying, and their intention of conceiving (International Transport Workers Federation par. 4). Therefore, regardless of how harsh the employment contracts may appear, employees are obligated to sign an agreement to adhere to the contract requirement. Breaching the contract law is a criminal offense that can cause the employees to lose their jobs. The probation period of three months is another employment law that is present in the employment contracts of the airline industries. Employees are under probation in the first six months, during which the employers can dismiss them.
A great percentage of the workers of the aviation industry in UAE are expatriates, who work under sponsorship programmes that offer them with visas. The government recognizes the vital contribution of the expatriates, thus, it has imposed laws guiding the immigrant workers. To ease the expatriates from the stresses of transferring their employers, the UAE government amended the law to allow expatriates to transfer their sponsors while in the country (“UAE Labour Law” par. 14). The aviation industry has embraced the immigration laws to manage the imperative expatriate workers. The employees are free to leave the aviation industry to join other companies as long as their decisions do not breach the employment contracts. The immigration law had indeed played a great role in empowering the expatriates, who may be dissatisfied with their work place. In January 2013, 35 expatriate pilots resigned from the aviation industry because they felt that they were subjected to harsh treatments.
Apparently, the pilots did not receive any penalties for their decision to leave their lucrative careers. The UAE labour laws disallow association and cooperative bargaining, thus, the UAE aviation industry has embraced that labour law by disallowing worker unions. Therefore, employees cannot resolve potential disputes through unions, and employees who feel intimidated can file the allegations in a court. If the judges rule in the favour of the employees, they may receive monetary compensation from the company for all the damages. The executives of the aviation industry clearly state that unions contribute to joblessness. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Qatar airways emphasizes that if there were no unions, the joblessness issues in the western world would be outdated. Employees in the UAE aviation industry can only air their allegations through hotline numbers. Most importantly, the expatriates are aware that the labour laws do not favour them when it comes to the minimum compensation for their services. Therefore, with no trade unions to address pertinent matters like salaries, expatriates working in the aviation industry have to be satisfied with the amount they receive as salary.
Dispute resolution laws
As indicated dissatisfied employees are allowed to file their disputes at the courts. However, there are certain procedures that they ought to follow before resolving to seek refuge in the courts. Employees who feel oppressed present their allegations to the Ministry of Labour, which acts as the mediator. In case it finds difficulties in mediating, the Ministry of Labour transfers the allegations to the courts. Although this is the rightful procedure for the employees of the aviation industry in UAE to air their disputes, very few workers have the courage to face the Ministry of Labour.
From the discussions, it is evident that UAE aviation industry has made all the efforts to ensure that it meets the requirements of the external aspects of operating in the global environment. Moreover, presenting the employment laws to the employee is a commendable approach, as the employees become aware of what is expected of them. However, it is noteworthy that the industry has little emphasis on the internal factors of the various organisations. Unlike other workplaces where workers form unions that help them to address their issues, unions are banned in the UAE. The expatriates, who form a big percentage of the workforce in UAE aviation industry, are overwhelmed with the labour laws that scarcely protect their human rights. Indeed, the aviation industry is making fortunes from the tireless efforts of the defenceless workers. The workers have to persevere with the unattractive pays, the harsh treatments, and the harsh bosses in the workplace. Having no way of expressing their grievances, cabin crews are now turning to the International Transport Worker’s Federation for consolation. Surely, stressed employees cannot perform highly in the work place. There is a high dissatisfaction amongst the employees who work under the divide and rule regime.
It is noteworthy that women are very delicate people, who ought to receive full protection in any work environment. However, that is not the case in UAE aviation industry. In the employment contract, the women are obligated to obtain permission to get married from their employers. Moreover, female employees ought to report to their employers whenever they realize that they are pregnant. In any case, the employer can fire an employee who becomes pregnant, which is very inhuman.
The overbearing scrutiny of the workers and the restriction on the visitors that one can have destroy the ambience of the residential areas. Surely, the management imposes harsh treatments on the employees, who might have come from their countries in search for greener pastures. The rigid curfews and the swipe –in door keys portray that the management of the airlines distrust their employees. Although the company executives think that the CCTV cameras enable them to run the company smoothly, they are indeed harming the employees, who are very important stakeholders of the company. According to reports, 35 pilots resigned from the UAE aviation industry in January 2013. Surely, piloting is a specialized career with very few professionals. The treatments that some pilots cannot with stand must be too harsh for other subordinate employees to withstand.
From the discussions, it is evident that the employees working in the aviation industry in UAE are literally married to their jobs. It is a high time that the executives of the aviation industry restated their employment laws. One thing that the executives ought to know is that employees are very important stakeholders of the industry, and without them, the industry cannot run its operations. Moreover, the policy developers of the aviation industry ought to know that women are very delicate people, who ought to receive full protection in any work environment. Obligating women to obtain permission to marry or report that they are pregnant is inhuman in the contemporary world.
It is also noteworthy that the comfort that people require after a tiresome day is highly important. Therefore, the management should stop treating employees like slaves, and instead, it should offer them with favourable work environments, admirable salaries, comfortable homes, and they should initiate employee motivation programmes. The UAE government should review the laws regarding immigrants, and seek to treat all people equally regardless of their nationality.
It is very discouraging to note that UAE still clings to the old traditions of harassing expatriates, who are literally running the aviation industry. Approving employment contracts that support the employers to harass the employees is an inhumane act for an exceptional nation like UAE. The aviation industry ought to be one of the industries that treat their employees with utmost respect. They ought to be the best places to work, as the entire industry requires intellectuals to run the operations. UAE should note that its airlines are amongst the fastest growing airlines in the world, and the negative reputations from the public might have adverse consequences on their performances. In the contemporary world, immigrants are treated in the same way as the native respondents. In fact, some nations value the expatriates, who bring developments to their nations. This paper should act as a wakeup call for the executives of the aviation industry in UAE to drop their traditional practises and adopt the labour laws in the globalised world.
International Transport Workers Federation. “ITF Lobbies for ICAO Action on Qatar/UAE Rights Abuses”. Press Area, 2013. Web.
UAE Labour Law 2014. Web.