Saturday, October 22, 2011

It Doesn't Really Take That Long Anyway...

This piece of news caught my eye today.

Hertz fires 26 Muslim drivers in dispute

More than two dozen Somali Muslim drivers for Hertz at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are being fired after refusing to clock out for daily breaks during which they normally pray, according to media reports.
The 26 workers drive the company's rental cars to and from the airport for cleaning and refueling. They are among 34 Hertz employees suspended Sept. 30 for failing to clock out before breaks.
Eight of the 34 signed the clock-out agreement and have returned to their jobs, company spokesman Rich Broome told The Associated Press Friday in an email. Termination letters have been sent to the rest.
The company made it clear the suspended workers needed to agree to the clock-out conditions by the end of the day Thursday if they wanted to be reinstated, Broome told The Seattle Times.
The firings were first reported by KOMO-TV.
Broome told the AP earlier this month "It's not about prayer, it's not about religion; it's about reasonable requirements."
Observant Muslims pray several times a day.
Hertz said the suspended workers were violating provisions of a collective bargaining agreement and a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached two years ago.
Teamsters Local 117, which represents the workers, said the two sides were unable to negotiate an agreement that would have allowed the workers to return to their pre-suspension status, under which they wouldn't have to clock out to pray.
Union spokesman Paul Zilly said the workers were given an ultimatum to sign the clock-out document.
If Hertz felt some employees were abusing the break policies, it should have dealt with them individually, Zilly said.
The union said the break clock-out requirement is not in the contract and Hertz had agreed during negotiations last year that it would not require it.
The union has filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The union also said it is filing religious discrimination charges with the EEOC.
The union represents nearly 80 Hertz drivers who earn between $9.15 and $9.95 an hour. About 70 percent are Muslims.
Here's the link to the story.

OK, here's my take on the story. I don't know exactly how long these workers are taking to perform their prayers but in actual fact, it does not take more than 10 minutes for each prayer. Shorter if the person is a guy because for ladies, we need to take off our head covering, take off our make up, take care of our prayer attire, etc, etc. But for guys, the just need to take ablution, make sure their attire covers down to their knees and start praying. Unless the workers were also taking a cigarette break, their absence would only be for 10 minutes, at most for each prayer time.

Plus, if they were working 9-5, then there's only 2 prayer times that they need to perform during working hours; Zohor and Asar. Just 20 minutes out of the 8 hours they're working.

Again, the article didn't say how long these workers were taking off to perform their prayers and I can't claim to know the policies for clocking in and clocking out as we don't implement those in our company (Thank god!). However, I really feel that the company could have handled the situation in a much better way.If a few of the employees were taking longer than 20 minutes for each prayer break, then the company should have handled them individually.

Whatever the outcome, I hope it ends positively for both the workers and the company. And most of all, I hope this doesn't deter other companies from hiring Muslims as their employees.



ummufatihah said...

Assalamualaikum ALong,

Amat menyokong.