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CABIN CREW POWER: Emirates Concedes to Demands of Flight Attendants – Reinstates Full Medical Benefits

CABIN CREW POWER: Emirates Concedes to Demands of Flight Attendants – Reinstates Full Medical Benefits

CABIN CREW POWER: Emirates Concedes to Demands of Flight Attendants - Reinstates Full Medical Benefits

In a surprising move, Emirates has decided to make significant changes to the medical benefits its cabin crew currently receive from the company.  The airline had faced a backlash from its own staff after it introduced a system in which flight attendants were forced to contribute a percentage of the cost for diagnosis and treatment under its medical insurance scheme.

Dubai has a notoriously expensive healthcare system and expat residents, of which the vast majority of Emirates’ cabin crew belong, don’t have access to a public health insurance fallback.  Flight attendants claimed the cost of accessing medical benefits had become prohibitively expensive after Emirates cut back company contributions last year.

But in a new memo sent to the airline’s cabin crew and seen by this website, Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ chief operations officer has written that he is “pleased to announce several changes” to the company health insurance scheme.

Explaining why senior executives made the decision, Redha says the “changes demonstrate our leadership’s commitment to invest in our people.”  The move comes weeks after hundreds of angry flight attendants faced Redha and Thomas Ney, the airline’s head of service delivery in a hastily arranged cabin crew forum.

The cutbacks to the medical insurance scheme were just one of a number of controversial changes Emirates made to cabin crew terms and conditions last year.  Executives finally agreed to address a growing backlash after details of the changes and worker discord was made public.

While some staffers remained unconvinced of Redha and Ney’s promises to review and address their complaints following the forum, it appears that the airline has taken the feedback onboard and has been quick to rectify the issues.

In a range of improvements to the insurance scheme, cabin crew will no longer have a monthly premium deducted from their salaries and a co-pay arrangement will be removed from April 1st.  Emirates will also set up direct billing with a range of medical facilities and hospitals, meaning cabin crew should never be asked for their credit card when accessing medical help.

Further improvements will see cabin crew receiving “role related vaccinations” like yellow fever jabs for free and the onsite Emirates clinic will open for longer hours.  The airline also plans to improve a system for accessing medical help when cabin crew are sick or injured when on a layover.

Finally, Emirates plans to rollback a controversial sickness reporting procedure which saw all cabin forced to prove they were ill by reporting to a nurse or doctor if they were too unwell to attend work.  Instead, cabin crew will now be allowed to “self-certificate” for two days.

In other news, Emirates plans to start ‘upgrading’ cabin crew from April – meaning some flight attendants who have been stuck working in Economy for upwards of three-years may soon be promoted to work in Business Class.

The opportunities have arisen as Emirates restarts recruitment for new cabin crew.  The airline plans to train over 300 new crew every month from April onwards.

This article was prepared before a tragic incident involving a member of Emirates cabin crew in Entebbe was made public.

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