Union hits Qatar Airways with UN complaint

A global union has accused Qatar Airways of violating global rules on workers' rights. (AAP)

A complaint lodged with the International Labour Organisation against Qatar Airways has accused the airline of violating global rules on workers' rights.

A global union has filed a formal complaint at a UN body against Qatar Airways, accusing it of breaching the rights of its almost entirely foreign staff.

Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez of the International Transport Federation said the complaint was lodged on Thursday with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The union body wants the UN labour agency to condemn the wholly state-owned airline for violating global rules on workers' rights, as well as domestic regulations.

"We're urging the ILO to make the recommendations necessary to bring the Qatar government into compliance with its international commitments as soon as possible and end the disgraceful measures," Rodriguez said.

Energy-rich Qatar is already under pressure over the treatment of migrant construction workers, an enduring issue given fresh impetus as the emirate prepares to host football's 2022 World Cup.

In April, the ILO urged Qatar to remove a host of restrictions on forming unions and striking, and to protect workers from discrimination.

Beyond the dearth of union rights, Rodriguez said, Qatar Airways staff must live in company compounds, under surveillance, with curfews.

They are banned from marrying during their first five years at the company and must obtain its permission thereafter.

Becoming pregnant is grounds for immediate dismissal, as is failing to inform the airline about a pregnancy.

Staff face regular medical checks, including AIDS tests.

"Any infringement of the draconian regulations imposed on them is likely to result in sacking and deportation," Rodriguez said on the sidelines of the ILO's annual congress.

He said the rules were rarely made clear to would-be staff before they had actually joined and that they were bound by gagging clauses thereafter.

Qatar Airways is one of the world's fastest-growing carriers and more than 90 per cent of its staff is foreign, reflecting the overall proportion of migrant workers in the Qatari economy.

Rodriquez said if staff quit Qatar Airways before serving two years, they must repay a bond to the company in order to get an exit visa.

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