BA cross woman vows no compromise as 92-per cent of public back her

British Airways check-in worker Nadia Eweida has rejected a deal by the airline to end the row over her cross.

Miss Eweida said she was “grateful and happy” that BA had agreed to review its uniform policy in the face of extraordinary public outcry.

The company set out it would involve a compromise allowing her to display the tiny cross in the form of a lapel badge.

But the 55-year-old said she would only return to work if she could wear it on a chain around her neck.

Her refusal to give ground will be a further blow to the airline, which has suffered a public relations disaster over the row.

In another setback for BA, it emerged that an executive caught up in the affair has quit his £200,000-a-year job.

The airline’s ‘People Director’ Neil Robertson plans to leave BA in January after a 30-year career.

Miss Eweida will tell airline bosses she will not back down when she is called in for a further meeting at BA’s offices in Heathrow this week.

She said: “That is my bottom line. I went asking for specific management consent to wear this cross around my neck on a chain to manifest my Christian faith.

“In all honesty I don’t consider the cross to be jewellery or a badge to be worn on a lapel, a sleeve or a handbag.

“It is not a badge, it is not a cricket ball team membership of a club. It is to be regarded with high respect and with dignity.”

The airline caved in last Friday after a backlash by the Archbishop of Canterbury, leading bishops, 100 MPs and a string of Government Ministers.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh bowed to pressure after Dr Rowan Williams threatened to sell the Church of England’s ?6.6million worth of shares in the airline.

In a sign of the public support for her case, a poll published yesterday revealed that 92 per cent of people backed the right of individuals to wear crosses at work.

A massive 79 per cent surveyed by ICM for the News of the World said workers should wear any item associated with their religion, while 80 per cent condemned BA’s actions.

Some 65 per cent said traditional British culture was being eroded by political correctness.

Buoyed by the support yesterday, Miss Eweida said BA chief executive Willie Walsh’s change of heart was “wonderful”.

But she told ITV1’s The Sunday Edition: “Is it not natural for ladies throughout centuries to be wearing crosses around their neck? You know they have adjusted the uniform standards book to accommodate religious apparels of other faiths.

“They did not go to other faiths and say you adjust your religious apparels to accommodate the uniform. The uniform works around religion, around God first, company second.”

Miss Eweida said she did not want to see a boycott of BA because it would threaten the livelihoods of her fellow workers.

BA People Director Mr Robertson, 54, denied that his early retirement was related to the row over Miss Eweida’s cross.

He said: “It has nothing to do with that at all. I have nothing more to say.”

The airline claimed Mr Robertson, who was involved in drawing up BA’s uniform code, had decided to step down in the summer before the controversy erupted and was retiring to “change his lifestyle”.

Last week the married father of two pocketed £602,000 after selling 185,000 share options. He is also in line for a pension worth more than £100,000.

A BA spokesman said: “Neil Robertson leaves at the end of January and he made his decision to leave in late summer – before the issue of the crosses appeared.”


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, This is London, Nov. 26, 2006,

Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday November 26, 2006.
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