Landmark decision in Finland: Sikh busman said “it was a nice feeling” to wear a turban at work

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The long ordeal over whether Sikh bus driver Gill Sukhdarshan Singh could wear a turban to work ended on February 21. “I got a call from the AKT (Transport Workers’ Union) on Friday and they said that it’s been resolved,” he told Migrant Tales. “I have the right to wear a turban at work.”   

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“It was a nice feeling to go to work [and wear a turban],” he continued. “Everybody was happy: my coworkers and the passengers. They said it was a good thing that I could use a turban at work.”

Sukhdarshan Singh said that he went to work on that historic Friday at 10am. Even so, he had been struggling with his employer for about a year to have the right to wear a turban at work.

“[The long struggle] wasn’t nice but it’s now over,” he admitted.

The Sikh busman, who has lived in Finland for 28 years, said that it’s a good matter that Finland starts to accept people from other cultures.

“This is a very positive matter,” he said. “Finland is part of a wider world.”

Helsingin Sanomat  reported  Monday that a decision was reached last week between the Finnish Employers’ Federation of Road Transport (ALT) and Transport Workers’ Union AKT over the interpretation of the bus driver’s employment contract.

According to ALT and AKT, Sukhdarshan Singh has the right to wear a turban at work if he wants.

Sukhdashan Singh’s employer Veolia has promised to abide by ALT’s and AKT’s interpretation as well as Helsingin Bussiliikkene, Helsinki’s municipal bus company.

The right to wear a turban at work is a historical decision that Sikh bus drivers got in England in the 1969.