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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Update: Sikh Truck Drivers Challenge Hard Hat Policy

In August, we reported on a group of Sikh truck drivers in Canada who were challenging the Canadian National Railway's policy that all drivers wear hard hats, a policy which would obviously mean that the turbaned Sikh drivers would be unable to wear turbans as prescribed by their faith [see previous post].

Today's Trucking Online is now stating that the "group of about 500 Sikh truck drivers hauling in and out of CP's intermodal yards are still wearing their turbans as they negotiate a settlement."

Apparently, as part of the negotiation, the railway-employer "suggest[ed] that the truckers could remove only part of their turban, which comes in two sections. A hardhat could therefore sit properly on the 'underturban' by removing the five metre-long 'overturban.'

"The drivers, however, refused that offer."

According to lawyers specializing in employment law, if the matter is formally brought before a human rights commission or trial court, it will be a close call as to who prevails: "You would think based on history they would lean to accommodation. But the flip side of that is no commission wants to see one of these guys get hurt three months later. So they've got a very sensitive political issue to deal with."

UPDATE: In related news, a group of Canadian Sikhs, led by Avtar Singh Dhillon and Amarjit Singh Sidhu, along with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, are "fighting the government's decision to make wearing of hard hats mandatory" for longshoremen.

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