UNION

As summer holidays begin, airport's shameful trolly dolly culture revealed

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26 Jul 2019
Press Office

Press Office

  • Women forced to wear makeup, lipstick and high heels
  • Noticeable hair on women’s legs, arms and face ‘not acceptable’
  • Dreadlocks banned
  • Men must not wear make up
  • Women 'must wear nail varnish' and when one nail breaks 'they should all be filed down'


GMB Union represents tens of thousands of workers in the airline industry many of whom are forced to work under ‘frankly dangerous’ dress codes.

For example, at international ground service giant Swissport, women are required to wear makeup and ‘lip gloss or lipstick in red, pink or brown is obligatory'; a minimum heel height of 1.5cm (that doesn’t apply to men's uniform) and most controversially that 'well groomed legs are a pre requisite'.

GMB members say they are only permitted to wear flat shoes at work if they provide a doctor’s note - despite having to walk several miles a day in busy airports covering multiple terminals.

Having policies that apply to women but not men is discriminatory, plain and simple.

Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer

Dnata, the airport services provider for Emirates Airlines, has a uniform policy that is not only sexist but arguably racist too, saying dreadlocks are not permitted.

Shockingly, Dnata's uniform policy on the issue of female body hair states that ‘noticeable hair on legs, arms and face is not acceptable.  It can be removed with various methods, choose which one is most appropriate for you’.

There is no similar requirement for male employees.

Dnata’s policy sets out an extensive list of make up and make up colours which 'you are required to wear at all times when in uniform'. 

The rule is different for men, who aren’t permitted to wear makeup unless its 'concealer to cover imperfections'.

Women 'must wear nail varnish' and when one nail breaks 'they should all be filed down'.

Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer, said:

"I thought uniform policies like these had been consigned to the history books, they have no place in the modern workplace. It’s shameful ‘trolley dolly’ culture.

"Having policies that apply to women but not men is discriminatory, plain and simple.

“Requiring women to wear heels and traipse about for miles on end, specifically not allowing them to wear flats like their male counterparts is downright discriminatory. 

"Equally worrying is forcing women to remove their body hair in order to be presentable - women have body hair, get over it.

If the ‘Me Too’ movement and the Harvey Weinstein scandal have taught us anything it's that women need proper protection at work. 

Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer

“It's not for an employer to tell them they should remove it and nor should a woman be made to feel like she should have to in order to comply with out-dated and sexist standards. 

"If the ‘Me Too’ movement and the Harvey Weinstein scandal have taught us anything it's that women need proper protection at work. 

“While these policies don't constitute sexual harassment they contribute to a frankly dangerous perception of the way women 'should' look and behave in order to fit in with a superficial, patriarchal standard.

“It's these perceptions and dress code requirements  placed on women that lead to them being sexually objectified.”

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