Air Canada has recently started to accept applications for a highly controversial job that is currently subject to a human rights complaint. The airline is hiring a new intake of so-called On-Board Service Managers (OBSM) who were first introduced in 2016 to improve service by placing greater scrutiny on cabin crew through onboard assessments and monitoring.
But the programme has been mired in controversy with allegations the OBSM’s have helped create a “toxic environment” and have been involved in discrimination and harassment.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees filed an official complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission back in March over its concern about the On-Board Service Manager project, as well as other alleged discriminatory behaviour affecting some of the 8,000+ flight attendants working at Air Canada.
“Our complaint states that Air Canada, through its policies, procedures and practices, fosters harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and this must stop now,” explained Beth Mahan who represents Air Canada flight attendants on behalf of CUPe. “Air Canada has repeatedly failed to deal adequately with harassment and discrimination complaints,” Mahan continued.
The union claims many OBSM’s have “made sexist, racist and homophobic remarks to and about service directors and flight attendants,” under the guise of improving onboard service. In one case, an OBSM is alleged to have told a flight attendant to wear the optional dress uniform as it would show more cleavage to male customers. On another occasion, a manager is said to have told a flight attendant that her skin was “too white”.
But Air Canada hasn’t shown any indication of shutting down the programme and instead looks to be expanding it even further. The airline drew even more criticism from flight attendants when it started to send OBSM’s undercover, and recently the Air Canada app even asked frequent flyers to take photos of their experiences onboard – the union has been quick to sound the alarm again.
According to the new job ad, Air Canada is looking for candidates who can inspire passion in customer service excellence. “The primary objective of this position is to coach and conduct onboard assessments, while managing the development and performance of the Cabin Crew,” reads the ad. Other responsibilities include carrying out grooming checks, monitoring crew performance and checking on “high yield” customers.
Applications are set to close on 22nd November, with positions available at Air Canada’s bases in Toronto and Vancouver.