Am I the only person who feels a twinge of sadness that British Airways (BA) caved in on the issue of Nadia Eweida’s cross? I detect no sympathy for ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’.
Admittedly, under the law, its position was inconsistent, and undeniably it handled the issue clumsily. But I was rooting for the employer to stand firm and say ‘enough’.
Enough with the hectoring. Enough with the moralising. Enough with the political correctness.
BA has a difficult business to run. And frankly, if it wants its customer-facing staff to be free of religious trinkets, then it should have the right to impose the policy.
I come to work to work, not to advertise my beliefs. Equally, I don’t expect to be ‘sold’ other people’s lifestyle choices – I have respect for anyone’s deeply held convictions, but the workplace is not the place for sharing them.
The situation is about to get more complicated. The scope of the Religious Discrimination Regulations 2003, which govern what an employer can do in these circumstances, is about to be widened. From 6 April 2007, it will be extended to include any “genuine philosophical belief, including political belief”.
It’s a mischief maker’s charter. Now can you see why BA was so intent on enforcing its dress code? From next spring, Ms Eweida’s colleagues will be sporting party political rosettes and ‘I’d rather go naked than wear fur’ badges.
And don’t think it won’t happen – the British workforce has form. When Sikh men first ventured into work wearing turbans, their workmates took to wearing hats to highlight their own ‘rights to headgear’.
Predictably, the most depressing episode of the whole cross saga was Tony Blair’s intervention – saying BA was “wasting energy” on the issue. Perhaps if his government wasn’t rubber-stamping unworkable employment law, companies wouldn’t have to look stupid trying to comply with it.