Dress codes irk stewardesses
By Lee Hyo-sik
One of the country’s largest labor umbrella groups is urging Asiana Airlines to ease its guidelines on how its female flight attendants should look and dress. It argues the company’s rules are too excessive and infringe upon the basic human rights of employees.
But the nation’ second largest flagship carrier refuted the claim, stressing its dress code should be observed as it represents corporate brand and identity.
The company said flight attendants should abide by the rules at all times by maintaining a “decent” appearance while on duty.
In commemoration of International Women’s Day, which fell on Thursday, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) held a press conference in front of the headquarters of Kumho Asiana Group in downtown Seoul at 11 a.m.
KCTU said Asiana’s rules on appearance and attire for stewardesses were too strict, demanding the airliner revise them as quickly as possible to respect individuals’ freedom of expression and other human rights.
``We agree that flight attendants should look presentable. But it is too excessive for the company to tell us how to look and get dressed from A to Z,’’ said Kwon Soo-jung, the head of Asiana Airlines’ stewardess union. The union is affiliated with KCTU. ``The guidelines do not help us serve customers and ensure flight safety. They are outdated and overly strict, suppressing female flight attendants’ rights to individuality and freedom of expression.’’
Kwon even said that the rules are mainly aimed at maximizing company profits by commercializing women’s bodies.
According to the Asiana flight attendants’ union, they cannot wear pants at work.
They should always wear pink or yellow nail polish, while keeping the length of their fingernails shorter than 3 millimeters.
Flight attendants are also banned from wearing eye glasses and strongly encouraged to wrap their hair in a small-sized hairnet.
In comparison, Korean Air flight attendants, mostly senior ones, are allowed to wear pants. But they are also subject to stringent appearance and attire guidelines.
``Flight attendants are not Barbie dolls. We are professionals with diverse characteristics who strive to become successful. We should not be judged by how we appear outside. We cannot be subject to any discrimination at work just because we are women,’’ Kwon said.
She demanded company management invalidate its guidelines concerning appearance and attire of flight attendants. ``The company must allow us to wear eye glasses and put on trousers. The widespread discriminative practices against female flight attendants should also come to an end.’’
But Asiana Airlines said it has no intention to change rules governing how flight attendants look on airplanes.
``These internal rules are not compulsory but are strongly recommended to be kept by all flight crews,’’ an Asiana Airlines spokesman said. ``We are in a highly-competitive service industry. The way our flight attendants dress and look significantly influences our business. Not to mention, they also represent the company image.’’