Outrage at nothing, as Marks & Spencer allow some Muslim staff to avoid pork

23 December 2013

marks and spencer Apparently, some Muslim members of Marks & Spencer's staff have been given permission to refuse to serve customers who are buying booze or pork products. Naturally, there's a Facebook campaign to boycott the retail chain.

Of course, the main gripe is that people think Muslims shouldn't be granted religious beliefs if it impedes their ability to work, but of course, the crux of the matter is this - 'Can you still buy pork and alcohol at M&S?'

The answer is: 'Don't ask such a stupid question'.

By and large, each of the big supermarkets deal with this sort of thing on a case-by-case basis as, in fact, most Muslim members of staff haven't raised it as an issue. However, there's a braying few who are under the impression that all Muslims are causing a problem - the problem being that you might get to a till and be asked to buy your products at another till, which happens to be a matter of centimetres away.

In the Telegraph, one customer recounted her story regarding the matter: "I had one bottle of champagne, and the lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic but said she could not serve me. She told me to wait until another member of staff was available. I was taken aback. I was a bit surprised. I've never come across that before."

The key points here: The woman serving was polite and apologetic and the customer bought booze all the same. So yeah, let's boycott that shall we?

M&S spokesman said: “We recognise that some of our employees practise religions that restrict the food or drink they can handle, or that mean they cannot work at certain times. M&S promotes an environment free from discrimination and so, where specific requests are made, we will always make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them, whilst ensuring high levels of customer service.”

If you look at the boycott page, people aren't at all happy about M&S being non-discriminatory or a Muslim being nice about the situation. Indeed, they're not bothered that M&S also allow Christians to not work on Sundays and Jews to not work on a Saturday, if that's what they believe. The boycotters are proclaiming that they're taking their custom elsewhere.

Maybe they'll go to Sainsbury's who have a policy that people don't have to do things that go against their religion? Or perhaps they'll go to Morrisons who have a long-standing rule of not forcing religious people to do tasks that contravene their beliefs? Or maybe Tesco who say "It would not make sense to have somebody on the till if they cannot handle certain items."

Seeing as this has been something that the major supermarkets have done for a while and everyone has been able to get easy access to whatever meat and booze they want, it seems that this boycott is as useful as a teapot made from mist. All religious staff with issues are moved to other jobs in supermarkets, leaving the tills occupied by people who can serve anything. Pretty simple really - the retailers want to make it really easy for you to spend your money, because believe it or not, that's all they're interested in.

M&S have offered a needless apology, saying: "We regret that in the highlighted case this was not delivered to our usual standards. We would like to apologise for any resulting confusion and reassure our customers that this was an isolated incident. M&S offers an inclusive, secular environment for employees and customers, working closely with any employee with religious beliefs of any denomination that restrict specific food or drink handling."

"This policy has been successfully implemented over many years and does not compromise our ability to offer the highest level of customer service."

In conclusion, if you're thinking of boycotting supermarkets over something like this, good. Less dimwits for the rest of humankind to deal with day-in, day-out.

36 comments

  • AllyAkBar
    How is this any different from the God-botherers who wouldn't let two gays share a bed? Why should someone's worship of a padeophile be a barrier to getting pissed?
  • Slim S.
    Why boycott? Stupid people and their "religious beliefs" are the problem. If you don't want to work on a particular job, let staff know and see if they will "accommodate" you. Did she accept wages from a company who charge interest on their store cards? Religion should be a private and personal thing, not, "LOOK AT ME! I'M BEING SUBJUGATED".
  • thecresta
    "How is this any different from the God-botherers who wouldn’t let two gays share a bed?" Mmm, both involve God and pork. You're right, this is exactly the same! Have a star!
  • James
    Ban religion, done
  • Slim S.
    @James: Nah, people have the unerring ability to think up new fuckwittery to occupy their time.
  • OldGit
    I thought Muslims were not allowed to eat pork or drink alcohol, serving it should be OK. Another case of personal preference hiding behind a veil of religous belief?
  • Big M.
    ^ Yes, Exactly that. Surely working in a shop that sells alcohol and pork products should be against their religious beliefs too. No? I understand keeping people off checkouts who can't serve all customers but wait until it becomes a bar to employment, "you may be asked to occasionally work on the tills, would you ever refuse to serve a customer for any reason whatsoever?" "Yes." "Then fuck off back to the job centre then."
  • Waveydavey69
    I'm down the curry house all the time and they never refuse to serve me Cobra.. well not until much later..
  • Phil K.
    What an overflowing pile of Guardianista bullshit. "Of course, the main gripe is that people think Muslims shouldn’t be granted religious beliefs if it impedes their ability to work" Do you need reminding that this is muslims demanding their "right" to impose their "ways" onto US ? Do christians demand the right to refuse muslims Halal meat ? To call you a pompous Guardian reading fool would be an understatement
  • Dave
    Sorry the arguement the artical makes just doesn't hold up. Was the person thinking' I don't want to/can't serve pork or alcohol so I will go and work at a store that sells it'. M&S need to grow a pair, if the person is not able/want to do the job then find someone that will. There are a million jobs out there that do not involve serving either of these 2 products so apply for those instead. THis isn't racism just common sence.
  • mazza
    At The End Of The Day Muslims COME To England So Should Abide By Our Rules. Why Do We Pussy Foot Around These People. There Are Plenty Of Others Who Would Be Glad Of Their Job. This Country Needs To Grow Some Big Bollocks And Tell These Individuals To Piss Off Back To Their Own Country
  • Phil K.
    It's quite simple - if it "offends" them (and how many muslim corner shops stock Pork products and sell alcohol ?) what are they doing in that job in the first place ? The double standards of you pompous hypocrites is beyond belief. We have even had muslim extremists with their PC lapdogs (Choudary involved of course) demonstrating out side muslim resteraunts in London which served alcohol. VIOLENTLY demonstrating. And who should be demonstrating AGAINST them, on behalf of the muslim resteraunt OWNERS and workers ? The EDL. But if the extremists and bigots say "Jump" You fools ask if you should pull you pants down before you ask how bloody high
  • tinkerball
    Wow! Lots of white supremacists venting on here.
  • fuc m.
    mazza we are born in this country ... dawg
  • zeddy
    @tinkerball: Lots? Or some with other posts stating the obvious?
  • Joulupukki
    I tried to buy some Percy Pig sweets today but the checkout girl refused to handle them. Then I tried to buy some condoms but the woman in the chemists was Catholic. I needed to buy some Christmas cards but the kid behind the till was a Jehovah's Witness. Happy Christmas, everybody.
  • Ignor R.
    If a cat delivers its kittens in an oven it does not mean they are saffron buns.
  • Muslim G.
    Facepalm
  • Muslim G.
    As a Muslim, I agree the hypocrisy of some Muslims is not acceptable. It is clearly forbidden to drink, sell or serve alcohol. It is even impermissible to sit with those who consume it because it is in a way condoning its consumption. It is also forbidden to gain money (from wages or otherwise) from working in a place that sells items including pork, alcohol, drugs etc.. or deals in interest because their wealth becomes contaminated meaning anything they go on to purchase becomes impermissible for them too. Muslims are told in the Quran that there is no compulsion in their religion, basically that means it can't be forced on to people. Therefore Muslims should not put themselves in a position where they are jeopardising their faith for a few quid, so should choose their job accordingly. That way it remains fair on the customer, employee and employer. It is a Muslim's responsibility to ensure that their income comes from a permissible source.
  • Muslim G.
    Also just for the bigots out there, you can be English born 100% white Anglo Saxon and still be a Muslim ,it's a religion not a race. So saying go back to your own country is kind of stupid... facepalm.
  • Slim S.
    @Muslim Guy: Muslims aren't the problem. They never were. It is religion. Look at all of them, see the splinter groups with their zealots and twisted interpretations. Humans are basically mean.
  • diane g.
    This is an outrage . Is this not just the same as the Muslim thugs who patrol areas of the. capitol threatening other Muslims if they dare to sell alcohol. As usual th government hides behind diversity to justify marks and spencers actions . The truth is these people are scared just like the owners who dare not sell alcohol in their own shops. Give it three generations and the women of this country will be put back 400 years as these men are intent on possession of women and people's rights . fact . Don't bury your head in the same .
  • diane g.
    Sand
  • wonka
    You aren't much use if you can't handle non-Halal products or booze in a supermarket are you?
  • Bert
    This is nothing, I went to purchase a bottle of champagne from Asda yesterday and the Muslim staff member refused to serve me due to his personal beliefs. He said to me, sorry sir but I refuse to serve gigantic bellends
  • LuckyL
    What a load of PC drivel this article is. If your religious beliefs prevent you from being involved in the handling of alcohol, pork or bibles, then the sales clerk has clearly made the wrong choice of work place and should consider working in a Halal shop. I am sick and tired of this pompous, self indulgent bigotry.
  • Steve
    Ye gods, is this a record for the number of reply posts on a BW article? Everyone (well nearly) has certain moral guidelines and these may or may not fit in with socially accepted 'normal' tolerances. I, for example, would refuse to sell tickets to greyhound racing, or have anything to do with that sport in general. They are my guidelines, and I feel sufficiently strongly about the welfare of the dogs that I would have nothing to do with that 'industry'. Radically, my choice of profession has nothing to do with that line of work. Rocket science that is not. Utlimately, doesnt this boil down to the naivety / stupidity of this person's career choice? Lets move things to a more convential level - Chewbacca's Mum never refuses to serve anything, in fact her favourite is a large portion of pork... Having covered that, it solely remains for me to point out that there's too many grammatical mistakes in the above pots for me to even begin.
  • AllyAkBar
    @ Steve "Having covered that, it solely remains for me to point out that there’s too many grammatical mistakes in the above pots for me to even begin." Funny that, I don't see any pots.
  • Clear T.
    Many of the keyboard warriors here who come across as know-it-all righteous supremacists are blinded by their biased and personal dislike towards Islam, foreigners and religion in general. Put simply, egocentric racists. M&S are a big retailer who have expressly stated their fair and nondiscriminatory policy regarding employee well being and rights. Consider it as a terms and conditions enforceable on the shopper who upon entering may have to deal with and thus will need to work around it themselves (e.g. walk to another counter) At the end of the day, any negative feedback voiced towards this issue is ultimately the responsibility of the employer not the employee. Upholding this policy assumes prior knowledge of religious beliefs of employees prior to employment thus they have the choice to employ that person or kindly ask them to seek employment elsewhere. In this case, they have taken them onboard. Therefore any attack on the employee for merely abiding by what they believe in is unwarranted and unfair. Whilst the M&S policy is perfectly acceptable, it can result in less confusion and increase customer satisfaction if an additional clause is added to the policy, such as one suggested by the writer to have religious people work in other departments that avoid handling of pork and alcohol. The Tesco approach would also be a logical work around.
  • RMS T.
    So if I want to buy pork or alcohol, I would have to actively seek out a non muslim to serve me. Is this not discrimination? Surely we are all supposed to treat each other equally? Own goal for the PC do gooders!
  • Coran
    As others have pointed out. This is an hypocrisy. They say it is about respecting beliefs. But what about my belief that I should be able to walk into an M&S and be served their goods, without having to jump between staff to find someone that is willing to serve me? Surely that's discrimination against non-muslims? If you aren't willing to perform the full duties of your job, don't take the job! And the supermarkets showing tolerance of these fussy people, is simply trying to keep people happy, and reduce labour costs from turnover. It is not an example of them agreeing with this behaviour, as you have tried to make it seem. If I believe Justin Bieber is the spawn of satan. Does that justify me in refusing to sell his album to anyone while I work in HMV? I think the Bitterwallet writers need to read their own stuff from time to time, and realise just how little sense it makes. All they seem to do is use stories as some thin veil to relentlessly push their own hippie agenda. I'm sure they think their propaganda is justified, because of course they're right, and the means do justify the end.
  • Coran
    I wish there was an edit button... What was this about "Sainsbury’s who have a policy that people don’t have to do things that go against their religion"?... "Sainsbury’s guidance advises that all staff — regardless of religious beliefs — are able to handle meat and alcohol. In other words, the same rules apply to everyone, irrespective of religion." -http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/10532782/Muslim-staff-at-Marks-and-Spencer-can-refuse-to-sell-alcohol-and-pork.html
  • theFIREstarter
    A bit off topic but how on Earth do muslims get by without dealing with interest? If they just put their cash under the mattress it must get decimated by inflation over time? If they invest in housing instead or even simply buy a house to live in and later end up selling it, aren't the capital gains from house price rises also intrinsically linked to inflation and interest rates as well? Isn't participating in the economy of any modern country instantly "muddying" their money with interest?
  • Steve
    @allyakbar - yes, you have a valid point... technically, that was a spelling rather than grammatical mistake though...
  • bobby
    does sliding an item 4 feet across a bar scanner constitute serving? also they are not the owners of the item so they cannot sell it, it belongs to the store. sack the trouble-making bitch!
  • jim
    Nothing against Muslims and legally speaking I think anyone can refuse to serve anyone anything, however this sounds like the work-shy trying to goof off working on a till. As I understand it, it is fine to sell haram products (so long as you don't own the store) and all money made is halal. It is also fine to touch haram products, especially as they are normally packaged. You may want to wash your hands at a convenient time afterwards. These rules existed in the early middle ages...

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