BMI Airways Management Culture
BMI (British Midland Airways) is a British based company operating within the UK and to various long haul destinations.
As a UK airline, BMI are required to operate in accordance with UK law and, indeed according to the Tribunal Judge, did operate within UK employment law.
Due to the precedent set by Judge Robertson in the case of Lisa Ashton V BMI (British Midland Airways), it is now acceptable by UK law for a British Company to discriminate against its employees based on sex and/or religion. The defence of ”a proportional response to achieve a legitimate aim” will be accepted, as the UK law now stands, to allow British companies to discriminate against its workforce, outside any actual requirement from the host country.
Further examples of the management culture within BMI are:
- Discrimination of its female crew outside anything required from host country.
- Failure of BMI to ensure its crew had attended the required course to ensure their safety.
- On oath, BMI manager stated, “All crew expected to operate to Saudi HAD been rostered a Saudi Course.” Lisa was never rostered the course.
- Refusal by BMI managers to answer simple security questions in letters and meetings.
- “Technical Error” that enrages Israeli Transport Ministry Director General Gideon Sitterman.
Acceptable For A British Company to Discriminate Against Women
Due to the precedent set by Judge Robertson in the case of Lisa Ashton V BMI (British Midlands Airways), it is now acceptable by UK law for a British Company to discriminate against its employees. Despite the Saudi Embassy in London stating, “There is no requirement for women to walk behind the men and no requirement for western women to wear the Islamic abaya when in Saudi, only to dress conservatively.” BMI demanded its female crew must walk behind the men irrespective of rank, don the Islamic abaya while at the same time removing their crucifix, in order not to “offend” Saudi sensibilities. However BMI, the Tribunal and the British Government seem to have overlooked one simple fact. If you look at the BMI logo you will see that it is a stylised Union Jack, which of course, features the Cross of St. George, the same St. George who was involved in the Crusades. Although the crew were asked to remove a small necklace, BMI seem happy to parade the cross of St. George the size of an Airbus 330 tailfin, when flying into Saudi. Double standards?
BMI Fail to Ensure Crew Rostered Required Course
We have access to the notes given to trainers for the BMI training course. We will be posting excerts from this document in the “BMI Document” section and leaving readers free to comment.
A memo sent by BMI to its crew, in relation to its new service to Saudi stated, “Prior to launch, all long haul crew will be issued with a full service brief and cultural awareness courses will be well underway, if not complete”, and “In the fullness of time, it is anticipated that both LHR and MAN long haul crew will be trained to operate to all long haul destinations”.
The meaning of this is clear. All crew expected to operate to Saudi would be rostered to attend this Saudi course and PRIOR TO LAUNCH would be issued a full service brief. Lisa was never rostered the course or received the full service brief document.
Consider the following, we quote EXACTLY from the BMI trainers course notes:
“Show the medicine kit and explain that BMI has been advised that no medicines of any kind (including aspirin and paracetamol) are allowed into KSA (Saudi) without a Doctors prescrition. These are seen as drugs and the penalties for the importation of drugs into KSA can include the death penalty.”
The only reference to that information was contained in a booklet for a course that Lisa never attended.
British law states, “It shall be the duty of all employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all their employees whilst they are at work. To achieve this employers’ need to ensure the health and safety of their employees by providing adequate information, instruction, training and supervision as required”.
Therefore by calling out Lisa to fly to Saudi, BMI fail in their duty of care. This in an industry where safety is paramount. BMI fail.
BMI Manager Mislead the Judge and Tribunal
In an attempt to disguise this blatant breach of BMI’s responsibility, Ms. Sharon Cambell a Manager for BMI stated, on oath, “all crew expected to operate to Saudi HAD been rostered a Saudi course.” This, as we have established is a lie. Lisa Ashton was never rostered the Saudi course.
If Ms. Cambell or indeed BMI would like to dispute that statement, we look forward to them or their legal team contacting us.
BMI Managers Refuse to Answer a Simple Security Question
In the BMI memo from of Aug 2005 it stated:
“In the event of an emergency there is a siren warning system. Turn off all lights and proceed to the safe room. This room will vary depending on the type of accommodation; ideally the safe room should be in the middle of the accommodation with only one access point and no windows.”
Lisa did not trust BMI (British Midland Airways) had the ability or exhibited sufficient evidence of the required duty of care required to ensure its crew’s safety when operating into Saudi. This view was confirmed at the Tribunal when Mr Brian Culver Head of Security for BMI stated that the “safe room” mentioned in the BMI memo was actually “not safe” due to it having a plate glass window and backing onto a swimming pool that in the event of an explosion would “flood the safe room”.
Lisa therefore asked BMI the following question at her disciplinary meeting, “In the Memo sent in 2005 it mentions ‘in the event of an emergency’ proceed to the safe room. What “emergency” in Saudi would require crew to proceed to a safe room”. BMI managers were unable or unwilling to answer the question. Follow the email trail in the “BMI Documents” section for more detailed study, however such was the totally shambolick attitude to its crew’s safety in Saudi, LHR based BMI Manager Jane Dewey stated in an email, “The information is not something we have ever written into any of our crew briefings to my knowledge.” Senior crew manager Sharon Cambell states in another email, “The crew member concerned claims we gave information to our crew at the start up of our flights to Saudi telling them that in the event of an emergency they had to take a mobile telephone and torch and proceed to the safe room. She is asking what kind of emergency is anticipated that she should need to take these measures. Her contention is that Saudi is not safe to travel to and is citing this instruction as proof that the company thinks so too.” Very perceptive Ms. Cambell, indeed that was exactly Lisa’s contention. Note however Ms. Cambell says “the crew member concerned “claims”. Strange it’s a “claim” when the memo was issued by BMI themselves. Finally Ms. Cambell outshines herself when she suggests that ‘In the event of an emergency’ that required proceeding to a safe room with ONE exit and no windows, the explanation might be, “is it simply fire regs?”
BMI Wipe Israel Off Map
If you were still in any doubt over BMI’s ability to operate safely to a politically sensitive area, in a story, again in the UK’s Times newspaper, “Passengers were shocked to discover that Israel had been wiped off the map by Britain’s BMI airline, which omitted the Jewish state from its digital charts on flights from London to Tel Aviv.” This prompted Yigal Palmor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman to say: “By pretending not to go where they are actually going BMI will end up going nowhere. By erasing their Israeli destination from the map, they will risk being erased from the list of eligible airlines for Israelis.”
A further report in the Daily Mail would again appear to cast doubts on BMI’s ability to separate fact from fiction (in this case denying it illegally withdrew money from its employees bank accounts).
For those interested in quite how BMI managers treated its staff please follow this link to a 10 page letter that was sent from Lisa Ashton to the previous CEO Nigel Turner, which drew his attention to the practices of the BMI managers at the Manchester base.
Lisa did not get a reply to this letter from Nigel Turner. Mr Turner also failed to reply to a letter sent on Lisa’s behalf from a member of the Shadow Cabinet regarding the case. The new CEO did however reply to a further letter sent by the same Shadow Cabinet member, however he dismissed the case and stated, “The tribunal has already dealt with it”.
Lisa drew attention to the BMI managers that her contract of employment stated that she was required to perform duties that BMI (British Midland) may Reasonably require. When asked during the subsequent disciplinary process, Lisa stated clearly that it was not reasonable for BMI to require its female staff to walk behind the men and not reasonable for the company to demand its female crew to don the Islamic abaya, whilst at the same time being required to remove any outward sign, a crucifix for example, or following any other religion other than Islam.
Despite Judge Robertson being clearly informed of the above he has refused to allow an appeal.