Dozens fired in Swift dispute still seeking jobs |

Dozens fired in Swift dispute still seeking jobs

GREELEY A group that tried to mediate in a dispute over prayer breaks at the JBS Swift & Co. plant says 16 workers who were fired in the dispute have their jobs back.Dozens more among the roughly 100 workers who were fired last month are still looking for work, East African Community Council member Graen Isse said this week.The dispute happened after Muslim workers requested an earlier lunch break on the evening shift at the meatpacking plant during the holy month of Ramadan, so they could pray and end their fasting for the day. Muslims fast between sunrise and sundown during Ramadan.Other workers argued the workers were asking for special treatment.JBS Swift changed the break time, but Muslim workers said it was not early enough, and about 300 walked away from their jobs last month.Company officials say workers were told they would be fired if they did not return.United Food Commercial Workers Local 7 filed grievances on behalf of fired workers who wanted their jobs back. Local 7 representatives did not return calls for comment.Isse said that 16 fired workers have their jobs back, and 20 others have found employment elsewhere in town. About 50 to 60 others are still looking for work, generally in assembly or cleaning jobs where they dont have to speak English, he said.At least 100 East Africans continue working at the meatpacking plant, though JBS Swift officials this week declined comment on the situation regarding Muslim workers.More than 400 East Africans, mostly Somalis drawn to jobs at the JBS Swift meatpacking plant, have settled in Greeley during the last 18 months, the Greeley Tribune reported. They are legal refugees and can seek work under a United Nations resettlement program.In Grand Island, Neb., about 300 Muslim workers walked off the job at a JBS Swift plant in a similar dispute last month. The company said it fired 86 workers for leaving work without authorization.

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