Dispute between Muslim workers and Tyson Food plant managed

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | 8:28 a.m. CDT; updated 10:55 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NOEL — A dispute over prayer time for Muslim workers at a Tyson Food plant in Nixa has been tentatively resolved.

About 130 Muslim workers, many of whom are Somali refugees, walked off the job at the plant Friday because of the dispute.

Muslims are required to pray five times a day at specific times. The Joplin Globe reported that one of the times is 5 p.m., which was the time most in dispute between employees and a new management team at the plant.

The workers returned to the job on Monday after a tentative agreement with management allowed prayer time.

The Globe reported that Tyson officials and workers met Monday afternoon and agreed to negotiate a long-term solution.



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Harold Sutton October 26, 2011 | 9:59 a.m.

Sounds like demands for Sharia law to prevail be will eventually come up.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 26, 2011 | 10:56 a.m.

Sounds like the company and workers came to a resolution without that fictitious bugaboo coming into play, eh?

(Report Comment)
Ed Lane October 26, 2011 | 12:54 p.m.
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Mark Foecking October 26, 2011 | 1:24 p.m.

Let the smokers smoke on their own time.

Other than working, would you rather have your employees praying or smoking?


(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 26, 2011 | 1:33 p.m.

I'm sure some of the calls for what should happen would be different if these were good ol' boys with white skin that wanted to pray before butchering chickens.

(Report Comment)
Sally Willis October 26, 2011 | 1:39 p.m.

Ed OUCH! Man that even hurt me! I think it's cold they took prayer from our kids in public schools, but for someone to take it from an adult, it's not right. Anyone should be able to pray when and where they want. We are all allowed to take breaks at work so they should be able to use theirs for prayer. Right?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 26, 2011 | 3:54 p.m.

In Egypt it is the law that every factory have within its boundaries a mosque. At normal prayer times the factory physically stops operation.

Egypt is 90% Muslim and 10% Coptic Christian. One higher management person where I worked was a Copt. While there is a mosque in each factory there is no comparable facility for Christians to pray. There are no Jews. Cairo once had a viable Jewish population.

Perhaps it won't surprise anyone that the cleanest place in the entire factory was the mosque.

The standard work week is 48 hours (not uncommon in "developing" countries). My observation was that it takes them 48 working hours to turn out what any comparable factory in the United States, Canada or even Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile or Brazil can turn out in 40 working hours - or less, and it wasn't because of the state of their equipment.

Coptic Christians get Fridays off, same as Muslims. If the Copts want to go to their church on Sundays, they must do so before or after factory hours.

Egypt is - and rightly so - considered a "liberal" Muslim country. I think I'll skip visiting the others.

(Report Comment)
Harold Sutton October 26, 2011 | 6:54 p.m.

It is changing over there in Egypt. Read the news that has been coming out from there. There may be another revolution.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock October 27, 2011 | 12:22 p.m.

Odd. In I am in Afghanistan and they don't all pray five times a day. Some do, some don't. Could the workers be using the five times a day thing to get a break from work?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking October 27, 2011 | 12:36 p.m.

One sect prays 5 times a day, and the other 3. I forget if it is Sunni or Shia' that prays 5 times a day.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 27, 2011 | 2:30 p.m.

@ Mark Foecking:

That is correct. I believe it's Sunnis that pray or are supposed to pray 5 times a day. That seemed to be the norm in Egypt, and I believe they're Sunnis.

There's a great line in the motion picture "The Wind And The Lion." The Berber, played by Sean Connery, explains his prayer philosophy. When he can, he prays 5 times a day; when he's otherwise occupied he prays only 3 times a day. He explains this difference by saying that "Allah is very forgiving."

While less impressive, the Protestant sect that established Amana Colonies had church services 11 times a week, but not any more.

Allan Sharrock:

No, I don't think prayers are an excuse for not working (and I've heard just about every excuse there is for not working). The entire factory schedule was built around those prayer breaks. This wasn't handy for certain continuous operations. Factories of this type operate 7 days a week for finishing operations (kilns) and 6 days* a week for all other operations. I Assume that the skeleton crew on Fridays goes to the in-plant mosque at the proper times to pray (I was allowed to have Fridays off).

These weren't bad workers, just poorly organized. Mexican "obreros" can run circles around them.

*-In many counties it only takes 5 days.

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