She was an air stewardess and was told that when visiting Saudi Arabia she had to wear a bin bag and walk behind male colleagues, even though it is quite legal not to do so.
She refused. She told her employer, BMI, to stuff its job right up its cargo hold. She’d been offered alternative flights, but that would have meant a hefty pay cut.
Why should she have to accept a pay cut as an alternative to bowing to the repressive customs of a backward country?
She lost her case at an industrial tribunal in Manchester, UK, when it ruled that there was no evidence that women would regard BMI’s requirements on wearing the abaya – a body-length piece of dignity-destroying cloth – and walking behind men as “placing them under any disadvantage”.
There’s the disadvantage to her status as a human being for starters. The disadvantage to her dignity. The disadvantage to all employees of companies that have dealings in that benighted Islamic state, who could be told by their money-grabbing employers – totally lacking in balls – to conform to the lunacy.
I like – or, rather, don’t like – the way the Telegraph in the above linked-to story refers to Saudi Arabia as “conservative”. The word, in relation to Islam, is used as if we were meant to infer a bit of eccentricity that we must indulge.
Bollocks! It’s repressive. It’s ugly. It’s demeaning. It’s contumelious. It’s debasing and degrading. It’s all of these things, not just “conservative”!
Anyway, 37-year-old Ashton says she may now seek a judicial review of the decision. Knowing the tendency of officialdom to kowtow to Islam, though, she probably won’t get anywhere.
She’s not even getting support from her union, it seems. This is what the Telegraph says:
She was earning £15,000 a year and flying to India, the Caribbean and the United States from her base in Manchester but was horrified to read details of the regulations for staff working on the new route.
Staff were given abayas and required to wear them when leaving the aircraft.
A document circulated to staff said: “It is expected that female crew members will walk behind their male counterparts in public areas such as airports no matter what rank.”
Miss Ashton, a practising Christian, was advised by union officials that the abaya was considered part of the uniform and she could face disciplinary action if she did not wear it.
Why isn’t her union fighting for her? Or is it? The story doesn’t say. But the use of the word advised suggests that the union told her not to rock the boat.
If so, is this what trade unions have come to in this country? Why isn’t it flying the flag for equality and for Lisa Ashton?