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Sikhs file HR complaint against firm

india Updated: Apr 01, 2008 10:36 IST

PTI
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Two Sikhs have filed a human rights complaint against a sawmill firm in Canada saying its new hard hat policy is preventing them from returning to their jobs.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal accepted the complaint of Kalwant Singh Sahota and Mander Singh Sohal last month and asked International Forest Products (Interfor) to file its response by April 9.

"Both of these guys are both long, long-term forestry employee workers and this is the first time this has ever happened," their lawyer David Perry was quoted as saying by Vancouver Sun.

Sahota, who is on a disability leave, said he learned last November that he would no longer be able to work at the mill wearing his turban because of a stricter hard hat rule.

Sahota, who began work at the mill in 2004, and Sohal, who has worked there since 1988, are receiving the support of Sikh groups across Metro Vancouver, Sahota said.

"Eventually all will benefit if we win this case. All the practising Sikhs would benefit for this," he said.

"This is pretty ignorant and pretty insensitive of the employer to bring such a policy. We are living in the 21st century. We are living in the hub of multiculturalism."

"We sacrificed our entire lives for the industry and all of a sudden because of this, I feel ridiculed. I feel insulted when they brought this policy in," Sahota said.

Sikhs in British Columbia have been allowed to ride motorcycles and bikes without helmets.

"This issue keeps coming and going, coming and going. There should be a permanent solution," Sahota said.

A similar dispute broke out a few years ago on Vancouver's waterfront, but was resolved when Sikhs wearing turbans were accommodated in jobs where hard hats were not considered essential, the daily said.