Union Might Deny Service To Qatar Airways

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
October 27, 2020Updated: October 27, 2020

Qatar Airways planes could be grounded in Australia, with the transport union considering a boycott over the physical examination of female passengers in Doha.

Thirteen Australian women were among those subject to internal searches as authorities tried to find the mother of a premature baby, left in a terminal bathroom.

“Members are angry at the brutal attack on the human rights of Australian female airline passengers in Qatar,” union secretary Richard Olsen said on Oct. 27.

The NSW branch of the union will consider taking industrial action against the airline, including a ban on servicing, cleaning or refuelling Qatar Airways planes.

It could mean the airline finds itself grounded on Aussie soil.

“Qatar and its airline must face up to the fact that there has been a violation of human rights,” Olsen said.

“Qatar should fix this problem they have created or they will face the angry uproar from union members.”

Union members are due to vote on proceeding with the boycott later this week.

The move follows demands from Labor for concrete action, including that the Qatari government apologise to the women who were medically examined, be transparent about the incident, and ensure it does not happen again.

“Not just an apology—which I would anticipate would be something that would be helpful to the women concerned—but measures taken both to ensure people know who was responsible and that Australians are safe,” ALP Senator Penny Wong told the Nine Network.

She does not support calls to boycott Qatar Airways.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has demanded the Qatari ambassador conduct an urgent investigation and hand it over by the end of this week.

Qatar is set to host the football World Cup in 2022.

By Daniel McCulloch