A dad desperate to work says he was forced to leave his job at Waitrose warehouse
because his faith forbids him to handle alcohol.
Musab Omar claims managers at the Tongwell Park warehouse told him: “No alcohol, no job.”
For six weeks he said he broke the rules of the Quran and shifted packaged boxes of alcohol.
But he felt so guilty he could not even touch a penny of the wages he received.
“I was desperate to work because we need the money . But how can I use it? To me it is dirty money and I cannot feed my family with it,” he said.
Mr Omar, 36, was placed in the part-time warehouse pickers job through Gi Group recruitment agency.
“Before I started I told the agency I was not allowed to touch alcohol because of my Muslim faith.
“They said that was fine because it was a big warehouse and there would be plenty of other things for me to handle.”
But, says Mr Omar, things proved different when he passed the three-day induction course and started work.
“The manager told me I could not work there if I refused to touch the alcohol.
“There were other Muslims there forced to do the same. It was bad. I felt cheated, abused and discriminated against.”
The warehouse is run by Kuehne and Nagel. A spokesman said the alcohol was wrapped and boxed.
But after Mr Omar raised concerns about working with alcohol the company’s HR manager contacted a local Imam for guidance.
“Their advice was it was not in contravention of the Islamic religious practice because the employee was not touching the actual product because it is wrapped up,” said the spokesman.
Mr Omar, who was employed directly by the agency, disputes this interpretation of the Quran.
“Some of the Inams are too relaxed and allow it. But the Quran forbids it and I will always stick to that,” he said.
This week Mr Omar, who lives in Bletchley, made a final plea through the agency for alcohol exemption.
“The agency said there was nothing they could do so I had to leave my job,” he said.
A spokesman for Gi said: “We are aware of the sensitivities of this issue and the different interpretations by the Islamic faith regarding handling of packaged alcohol and meat products.
“We have a number of employees who are of the Islamic faith and we are sorry not to have been able to accommodate Mr Omar.”
The agency has promised an immediate review of procedures about faith restrictions and workplaces to prevent future problems.