A Muslim bus driver in Harrow has been sacked after a dispute at work over his right to pray, according to a public sector union.
Mohammed Jahangir was sacked by “London Sovereign”, a French bus company operating under a franchise from Transport For London, after he was told he could not pray on “company time.”
William Spring, from the Employees Representatives union, said: “On 23rd September 2013 I went to the garage to represent a Muslim driver, Mohammed, who has been with the company for four years.
“He had never been called to a disciplinary before as far as I knew. The reason he was called was to do with a dispute about prayer time. The position is he signs on in the morning about 7.30am. A new UK manager told him he had signed on late, which he hadn’t. Mohammed went off to pray.
“After his prayer he was confronted by the same manager who told him he could not pray in company time. The manager denies this.”
According to Mr Spring, Mohammed had been praying for four years in company time at the beginning of his working day and the bus service had never been disrupted.
It is generally agreed that Muslim drivers can do their religious duties if this does not disrupt the service or upset passengers.
Mr Spring said that the manager had made additional remarks about Mohammed Jahangir’s uniform after which a shouting match ensued. At the disciplinary Jahangir was fired and the matter then went to appeal.
“It was agreed that Muslims can pray in company time as long as there is no disruption of the service. All of us, the Chair of the appeal and Mohammed and myself agreed it was a regrettable incident,” Mr Spring said.
“The decision to uphold the original decision was astonishing when there were lesser sanctions available and no account was taken of the provocation to which driver Mohammed was subjected.
“Regarding prayer time I have no particular views on the matter not being Muslim. But from a trade union angle it is clear we can’t tolerate dismissals for unfounded reasons.
“There is no evidence that the service was disrupted on account of Mohammed’s prayer time on that day or had ever been so disrupted in the past. We feel Mohammed has been victimised on account of his Muslim faith.”
Employees Representatives will be organising a demonstration outside Harrow Bus Garage on Friday between 2.30-3pm and are appealing to Muslims in West London to come along and support their demand for Mohammed Jahangir to be reinstated.
The union insists the protest must be peaceful and has called on non-Muslims interested in justice to attend too.
Meanwhile, Transdev (the parent company of London Sovereign) told 5Pillarz that the dismissal was due to “unacceptable conduct” rather than any sort of discrimination.
A spokesman said: “A bus driver was recently dismissed at that depot for unacceptable conduct because he swore at a manager and refused to wear a uniform.”