MUSLIM supermarket checkout staff who refuse to sell alcohol are being allowed to opt out of handling customers’ bottles and cans of drink.
Islamic workers at Sainsbury’s who object to alcohol on religious grounds are told to raise their hands when encountering any drink at their till so that a colleague can temporarily take their place or scan items for them.
Other staff have refused to work stacking shelves with wine, beer and spirits and have been found alternative roles in the company.
Mustapha, a Muslim checkout worker at the company’s store in Swiss Cottage, northwest London, interrupts his work to ensure that he does not have to sell or handle alcohol.
Each time a bottle or can of alcohol comes along the conveyor belt in front of him, Mustapha either swaps places discreetly with a neighbouring attendant or raises his hand so that another member of staff can come over and pass the offending items in front of the scanner before he resumes work.
Some of the staff delegated to handle the drink for Mustapha are themselves obviously Muslim, including women in hijab head coverings. However, a staff member at the store told a reporter that two other employees had asked to be given alternative duties after objecting to stacking drinks shelves.
So, let's see: these people, knowing that Sainsbury's sells alcohol-based products, agree to work for Sainsbury's, presumably under a standard contract of employment. No one has forced them to work for Sainsbury's, and they could always have chosen not to, if the prospect of having to sell alcohol is really so repugnant to them. They then refuse to fulfil the duties imposed on them by their contract. In response to this, Sainsbury's backs down, and allows them to pick and choose the work they do. I wonder whether this remarkably lenient treatment would be extended to non-Muslim employees? Or is it perhaps the case that if anyone else started raising moral objections to doing the job Sainsbury's paid them for, then Sainsbury's would - quite rightly - sack them quicker than you can say "Muslims get preferential treatment"?