More than 100 Muslim workers planned to march a couple miles to a Greeley meatpacking plant this afternoon in protest of what they called JBS Swift & Co.’s sudden reversal of accommodation for their religious fasting.

The workers, mostly Somalis but also from several other East African nations, said they were told by Swift management on Friday not to report to work today until the matter of changed break times to accommodate their fasts was settled.

On Friday, about 350 Muslim workers left work mid-shift — about 9:30 p.m. — when they were told they were not to break at 7:30 p.m. when their roughly 12 hours of daily fasting for Ramadan ended. Earlier in the week, the workers had negotiated with Swift to get the earlier break to allow them food and water after their fast.

Mohammed Osman, a Swift worker and one of the Somalis gathering in a downtown Greeley park Monday morning, said the company fired 10 to 15 Muslim employees on Friday. He said three female Muslim workers were also let go after they went into an employee locker room at about 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Omar Clarke, who is not Somali but described himself as “a white-and-black” Muslim, said workers at 7:30 p.m. Friday were told not to leave their work lines. He said the company closed bathrooms to the workers at that time. (MORE)


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