Nearly 200 Muslim employees have been fired from a meat-packing plant in the United States after they downed tools following a disagreement over praying at work.
The workers, mostly Somalian immigrants, staged a walkout in objection to what they said was inadequate accommodation of prayer time at Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan, Colorado.
Although the company provided a “reflection room” for Muslim employees to pray since 2009, the workers claim the policy has been changed, according to The Telegraph.
“All of these employees are good employees and don’t have any other issues. They feel missing their prayer is worse than losing their job. It’s like losing a blessing from God,” Jaylani Hussein, a council spokesperson said.
Further, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) claimed the workers had been treated with prejudice and told, “If you want to pray, go home”.
However, the company, Cargill Meat Solutions said there has been a ‘misunderstanding’ and its policy of allowing time for prayer has not changed.
Moreover, plant managers from the company met with workers, members of the Somali community, and union leaders after the walk-out but failed to resolve the issue, according to a spokesperson for the company. He said workers were advised that not turning up for work three days in a row would put them at risk of losing their jobs. However, after 200 of them didn’t turn up they were terminated.
“Cargill makes every reasonable attempt to provide religious accommodations to all employees based on our ability to do so without disruption to our beef-processing business,” the spokesperson added.
“At no time did Cargill prevent people from prayer at Fort Morgan. Nor have we changed policies related to religious accommodation and attendance. This has been mischaracterised.”
Speaking to Denver Post the spokesperson said, “It’s an unfortunate situation that may be based somewhere in a misunderstanding. There has been a desire among some employees to go in larger groups of people to pray.
“We just can’t accommodate that. It backs up the flow of all the production. We have to ensure food safety. We have to ensure the products we produce meet consumer expectations.”
This article originally appeared on The Telegraph