• Wearing the Turban: The 1967-1969 Sikh bus drivers dispute in Wolverhampton

      Hambler, Andrew; Seifert, Roger (Liverpool University Press, 2016-09-30)
      When a Sikh bus driver working for Wolverhampton Borough Council in 1967 wore a turban and beard to work for the first time he was sent home for breaching the existing dress code. The Sikh municipal workers pursued their demands through pressure-group politics after being marginalized by their union. It ended with a change in the employer and the employment regulations, and subsequent changes to the law. This case illustrates how a religious and cultural issue, originating from outside the workplace, led to challenges to the making and enforcement of workplace rules. It indicates the nature of struggle with, in this case, the relevant trade union failing to support its Sikh members, the local Labour council failing to confront its own racial prejudices, and how immigration, then as now, divides and weakens communities across the class spectrum. The limitations of treating industrial relations as mainly based on job regulation within the organization, to the neglect of external, often political, factors, are discussed, and the subsequent arguments over legal exceptionalism for Sikhs are rehearsed.