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Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2006, 18:15 GMT
BA uniform review after cross row
Nadia Eweida
Nadia Eweida said she had been "overwhelmed" by public support
British Airways is to review its policy on uniforms in the wake of a row over a worker ordered to stop wearing a cross.

On Monday, Nadia Eweida, 55, from London, lost her appeal against a decision saying she could not wear the cross visibly at the check-in counter.

The airline's chief executive Willie Walsh said it had become clear BA's uniform policy needed to change "in the light of the public debate".

He said BA would consider allowing religious symbols worn as lapel badges.

He said it was unfair that BA had been accused of being anti-Christian.

Ms Eweida said she was effectively forced to take unpaid leave after refusing to hide the cross symbol she wore round her neck when people of other faiths were allowed to wear visible religious symbols such as headscarves.

'Inexplicable ban'

She has been refusing to return to work since the ban and earlier this week lost an appeal against the decision.

After Mr Walsh's announcement of a policy review she said: "If they are going to review the policy and allow Christians their place in the workforce then that is a big relief."

She said she had been "overwhelmed" by the level of support she had received.

The criticism of British Airways has been misplaced and unjustified
Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive

Among those to criticise the airline's policy were the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, and the Leader of the House of Commons, Jack Straw, who said the ban on crosses was "inexplicable".

And on Friday the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said: "If BA is really saying or implying that the wearing of a cross in public is a source of offence, then I regard that as deeply offensive."

BA said Ms Eweida had been offered a non-uniformed post where she would be able openly to wear her cross but had refused to take it. The firm has told her to contact managers to arrange a second appeal.

'Proud of diversity'

Mr Walsh said: "The recent debate about our uniform policy has unfairly accused British Airways of being anti-Christian.

"British Airways is proud of its uniform and proud of the diversity of its staff.

"One of the fundamental aims of our uniform policy is to be fair and non-discriminatory.

"The criticism of British Airways has been misplaced and unjustified. I am proud to lead an airline that has a track record on diversity and inclusion which is second to none."

Brendan Gold, national officer of the Transport and General Workers Union, said: "We are pleased that BA has decided to review its uniform policy, a move that vindicates our support for Nadia Eweida's case.

"We trust this will bring closure to the issue and that she can return to work as soon as possible."




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SEE ALSO
Cross ban 'inexplicable' - Straw
23 Nov 06 |  UK Politics
Archbishop attacks BA cross rules
21 Nov 06 |  North Yorkshire
Woman to sue BA in necklace row
15 Oct 06 |  London

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