Qatar Airways boycott threat over strip search debacle
Transport union members are considering a boycott of Qatar Airways planes arriving in Sydney after more than a dozen Australian women were pulled off a flight and stripsearched overseas.
The Transport Workers' Union (TWU) NSW branch has announced it will consider industrial action to ban the servicing, cleaning or refuelling of Qatar Airways plans that land at Sydney Airport in the wake of the "brutal" actions of Qatari authorities earlier this month.
Thirteen Australian women on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Sydney were ordered off the plane at the Hamad International Airport on October 2 and into an ambulance on the tarmac where they were physically searched without their consent after a premature baby was found in a bathroom.
NSW state secretary of the TWU Richard Olsen said members were "angry" about the incident and wanted to see legal action against those responsible.
"TWU members have expressed their outrage and subsequently the TWU is calling on the Qatari Authorities to prosecute those responsible for the terrifying experience these women faced," he said.
"Qatar and its airline must face up to the fact that there has been a violation of human rights. The TWU has taken on the airline in the past for their gross violation of labour rights. Qatar Airways have continued to ignore the international labour rights of their workforce."
Mr Olsen said Qatar should fix the problem they have created, or they would face the "angry uproar" from union members in NSW.
Mr Olsen said "What these women were forced to go through at the hands of Qatari Authorities must be labelled for what it is, sexual assault," he said.
"These women had no choice, they had no guidance as to what was happening, and they did not consent."
This week Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne refused to be drawn on labelling the incident as "sexual assault" but described the strip search as a "grossly disturbing, offensive and concerning set of events".
Qatar Airways has been contacted for comment.
Previously a spokeswoman for the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar said the people who had "access to the specific area of the airport where the newborn was found were asked to assist" authorities attempting to trace the mother.
Originally published as Qatar Airways boycott threat over strip search debacle