(Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)
Flight attendants on Asiana Airlines are fighting to be allowed to wear pants while on the job, and according to new reports out this week have won a small victory in their battle.
The flight attendants have fiercely been fighting for months to be able to wear pants rather than the current mandatory skirts imposed on them but the company bosses. In the latest developments this week the fight has intensified as South Korea's human rights commission issued an official recommendation that pants be allowed for the flight attendants.
The recommendation by the commission is not binding in any way, but is a significant victory for the flight attendants, and could prove decisive as the battle continues.
At present Asiana Airlines has very strict rules about what their flight attendants can and cannot wear while carrying out duties on the flight.
The airline has printed a 10 page rule book dictating precisely what is acceptable and what is prohibited, to ensure that their flight attendants are all exactly how company bosses want them to look as the face of their business.
However, Kweon Soo-joung, head of Asiana's labor union, has told The Associated Press that where as women have a 10 page rule book governing their dress wear on flights, male flight attendants have just a 2 page rule book to attend to.
They argue this shows clear discrimination, and that women flight attendants should be allowed to wear pants and have a more flexible set of guidelines. Others, however, have suggested the difference in the two rule books simply reflects the more diverse range of dress wear women have available to them in formal clothes than their male counterparts.
The company has said that its skirts-only policy for female flight attendants has been put in place to emphasize the company's brand of "high-class Korean beauty."
They claim that aesthetic elements are part of the service for passengers, and that the strict dress code is essential in the company staying competitive in their market.
However, an AP report has pointed out that Asiana is the only airline in South Korea with a no-pants rule for its flight attendants.
Asiana Airlines has said that it already loosened its strict dress codes recently; from January it has allowed its female flight attendants to wear glasses, where as before they were prohibited. However, the company allegedly still enforces its codes that flight attendants must cover up any facial blemishes, and it imposes restrictions on hairstyles and make up.