Speaking to Today’s Zaman in Sakarya, 43-year-old N.E. said he had always been pressured by the Japanese car manufacturer’s management in the factory because of his religious views, but the latest incident took place some two months after he was laid off.
According to his allegations, management met with the employees of the painting section on May 24 and told them to continue working at noon -- a time when all Muslim men should attend the Friday prayer. He also accused factory management of trying to make it harder for pious employees to perform ablutions by putting “Don’t wash your feet here” signs in the restrooms. “But there are no special sinks where we can wash our feet as we are required when performing an ablution. So what they are actually doing is barring their employee from practicing their religious beliefs,” he said.
“They had already taken the pieces of cardboard on which we prayed away from us [they used the cardboard to kneel on when praying in lieu of a carpet], but we were still trying to observe our religious duties. One day the deputy general managers called me. They asked me if I was praying daily, and I told them I was. They then told me that they did not want to see me continue doing so, that I was a hardworking employee, but I could have been used by some religious sects,” said the employee, who worked at Toyota for 18.5 years, part of that time as chief of the quality control section. He was, however, not the first to raise such allegations against the Japanese car maker. A news report emerged in the Turkish media late last month that Toyota’s Turkish branch discriminated against employees -- the majority of whom fast during the holy month of Ramadan -- and then sacked 143 employees because of their religious commitments.
The former general manager of the Toyota Boshoku factory, which produces supply materials for Toyota vehicles, said in a letter he sent to the Star daily that he was laid off simply because he performed his religious duties. “I was banned from attending the Friday prayer. I was accused of being a member of an Islamic terrorist organization just because I was praying,” he was quoted as saying by Star, which did not reveal his name.