Protesters to urge FC Barcelona members to reject Qatar Airways sponsorship

This weekend, airline cabin crew members will be organizing outside of the FC Barcelona members’ meeting, in Barcelona, to ask club members to stand by the club’s ideals and reject further sponsorship by Qatar Airways.

Back in June, the International Labor Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency, found Qatar guilty of allowing state-owned Qatar Airways to institute discriminatory practices against its female employees. The case was brought before the ILO by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). They alleged that Qatar violated ILO conventions by having policies for terminating women who are pregnant, and prohibiting women from being dropped off or picked up from work while accompanied by any man who isn’t her husband, father or brother, among other allegations.

According to the ITF, the violating clauses governing pregnancies have since been removed from employee contracts, but there is no evidence suggesting the practice has stopped.

Still, the ITF still finds plenty of fault with Qatar Airways’ practices, starting with the fact that its staff are required to sign lifelong confidentiality clauses restricting their ability to speak publicly about their employment. The policy of prohibiting women from being picked up from work by a man who isn’t their husband, father, or brother still stands. Another notable perk: instant dismissal for having tattoos, even when they aren’t visible in uniform.

Addressing the pending protest, ITF policy coordinator Sarah Finke said:

“FC Barcelona is, as its members, players and fans proudly proclaim, ‘More than a club’. It’s a way of life, with a strong social ethos. Barca’s mission isn’t just world class football, it’s to keep fairness and justice in its heart and soul. We believe that is incompatible with accepting sponsorship from Qatar Airways.”

She continued:

“Qatar Airways personnel live under constant surveillance and the threat of instant dismissal for ‘offenses’ such as having a tattoo, being pictured in a Facebook post at the beach, or holding a cigarette or drink. They describe it as living in a climate of fear. They are barred from having a union to speak out for them. Qatar Airways staff have no voice. FC Barca members do. We ask them to search their souls and say no to this tainted sponsorship deal. Don’t sponsor fear in Qatar Airways.”

Smashing. So it seems the Qatar Airways saga is still all systems go.

If you happen to be in Barcelona this Sunday, pop by the protest and let us know how it goes. You can find it at the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya from 9:30-11:00am local time. Barcelona plays Eibar at 7:15pm, so there will be plenty of time to get from the protest to the stadium if you have tickets and aren’t too angry. There’s also plenty of time if you want to take a leisurely stroll to the stadium to continue protesting. Of course, the decision is yours. Conveniently, Camp Nou is in walking distance from the members’ meeting.

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