Officials with the Canadian Pacific Railway
will negotiate with 500 Sikh truck drivers about an issue that pits safety
against the group’s religious requirements.
The dispute started about two weeks ago after
CPR banned the truckers from the rail yard because they refused to comply with
a new rule requiring them to wear hard hats. The truckers had been contracted
by various companies in the area, the Toronto
According to the truckers’ lawyer, wearing the
hard hats is difficult or impossible for the drivers, because of the Sikh
religious requirement for its followers to wear turbans.
“The management in Ontario has been
sensitive to these Sikh drivers and the issues surrounding the compatibility of
wearing hard hats and turbans,” the truck drivers’ lawyer, Axy Leighl, told the Star.
The new rule is being viewed as
discriminatory, not a safety issue, by some members of Canada’s 450,000
population of Sikhs.
have lived in this country for 108 years and the tradition (of turbans) has
continued to bring us to loggerheads again and again,” Sher Singh, a Sikh
leader and lawyer, told the Star. “For years, these drivers had come to work with their turbans. This is clearly
not a safety issue.”
The group was expected to a file a complaint
with the Ontario Human Rights Commission on Thursday, but will most likely hold
off in hopes of negotiating with the railway, the Star reported.
The hardhat rule has been suspended until
talks are finished.