I Heart Percy Pig
Percy Pigs are my all-time favourite sweets. And, rather interestingly, they’re actually made from pigs. These ridiculously moreish strawberry and raspberry-flavoured gums contain pork gelatine. I guess you could say they do exactly what they say on the tin – or in this instance, the packet.
Anyhow, whenever I pop into Marks & Spencer, a bag of Percies always seems to end up in my shopping. There I am, patiently waiting my turn in the check-out queue and, before I know it, a packet of pink deliciousness has somehow, inexplicably made it into my basket.
‘Next customer please…’
The recent furore regarding M&S and my penchant for Percy Pigs got me thinking. Will I get told to wait for another till if my Percy reflex has kicked in? Now, just in case you’re not up to speed, apparently Marks & Sparks has decreed that any member of staff who is Muslim and does not want to serve customers buying alcohol or pork (and I’m guessing Percy Pigs) can politely refuse to do so.
Booze & Bacon Embargo
I find Marks & Spencer’s stance beyond ridiculous. To my mind, this is a case of fear of religious upset gone mad. Surely I should be able to go into any M&S store and buy any M&S products on offer and be served by any M&S staff without let or hindrance. I don’t believe that an employee should be able to refuse to serve me because I happen to stick a BLT and a bottle of chianti in my shopping trolley. Particularly when said products are a) legal and b) sold by M&S!
Sainsbury’s & Waitrose Common Sense
Thankfully, some big supermarket chains, like Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, don’t hold with such craziness. They’re of the view that if you take on a job with them, you have to carry it out fully. Unfortunately, some British heavyweights, like ASDA and Morrisons, seem to be happy to propagate this notion of religious intolerance and discrimination in their food halls. Mind you, there’s little chance of me doing my weekly shop in either of those institutions but that’s not the point.
No gammon. No gays?
The idea that a staff member can decide not to provide certain customers with a service because of their religious convictions raises other questions. For instance, would it be permissible for someone to refuse to serve a gay couple because the said partnership offends their religious sensibilities? Flip it round on its head and it begs the question can customers refuse to be served by say, a lady wearing a headscarf, because they find some of her religious beliefs and rituals retrograde, medieval and offensive?
What’s more, shouldn’t people be a little more savvy when applying for a job? If your religious convictions hinder you from carrying out your role, then shouldn’t you reconsider what it is you’re doing? It’s like a devout Catholic working at a Durex factory and expecting not to have to deal with condoms. Or for a Hindu to rock up at a McDonald’s and point out they have a problem with flipping beef burgers.
Similarly, I would never pitch up for work at a halal or kosher butcher’s shop and then tell my new boss I find the practice of ritual slaughter utterly barbaric and deeply offensive to my moral code and so will not be able to manhandle the goods on sale. I just wouldn’t put myself – or the employer for that matter – in that position.
So next time you pop into M&S at lunchtime for a sarnie and you hear a clattering sound near the check-outs, that’ll probably be me throwing down my basket and marching out in protest. But you can rest assured that I’ll be looking back forlornly at the pink smiling faces of Percy Pig and co scattered across the floor.
- Muslim worker refused to serve Marks and Spencer customer who wanted to buy champagne (metro.co.uk)
- Muslim staff at Marks & Spencer can refuse to sell alcohol and pork (telegraph.co.uk)
- M&S Says Sorry Over Alcohol Refusal (news.sky.com)
- Marks & Spencer say Jewish staff do not have to handle pork (thejc.com)