Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Muslim workers demand time off for prayers
16 May 2007: Nearly 100 Somalia Muslim workers at the Swift & Company meatpacking plant in Grand Island, Nebraska arrived at work Monday and delivered an ultimatum to their employer – either accommodate their Islamic prayer times or they would quit. When the company refused to acquiesce to the demands of the group of Muslim workers, they walked out, according to company officials.
Out of a 2900 member workforce at the Grand Island plant, about 200 are believed to be Somali Muslims, according to one plant official. Swift spokesman Sean McHugh stated that all employees receive one 15-minute paid break and one 30-minute unpaid break during each eight-hour shift, and can use the breaks as they see fit, including religious purposes. The policy is made clear to all new employees hired.
Last year, Swift & Company was the target of one of the largest raids conducted by the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). Meanwhile, this is yet another religious controversy involving Muslims from Somalia. Islamic cab drivers in Minneapolis have been refusing to transport anyone carrying liquor or anything else Muslims find objectionable according to their orthodox religious practices.