Sikh Aware resolves the issue of Amritdhari Sikh not being allowed to wear Kirpan at work in New Zealand

File Photo: Sikh holding his kirpan

AUCKLAND, NZ—Amandeep Singh, an Amritdhari Sikh is working as truck driver since Oct 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. Due to a complaint by fellow employees, he was requested to provide a letter from the NZ Police stating that the Kirpan is legal at workplaces in New Zealand on 4th June 2020.

Amandeep Singh approached the police directly and through local Gurdwara committees. However, despite repeated follow-up, the police have not responded with the letter required.

On 27th July, the employer issued a second follow up letter requesting the written confirmation from the police. Despite repeated follow-up, no response was received. On Monday, 10th August, the employer informed Amandeep Singh that he cannot come to the workplace wearing a Kirpan till he gets the letter from the NZ Police.

Amandeep contacted Sikh Aware to help him out with the issue. Amandeep Singh had a firm resolve that he will not go to work without wearing a Kirpan and preferred to stay at home. The news of this incident spread far and wide and even the President of SGPC (The presiding body of the Sikh Gurdwaras in Punjab) Gobind Singh Longowal took notice and asked that the Indian Government raise this issue with the New Zealand Government. He also asked the Sikh Institutions of New Zealand to try and resolve this issue at the earliest.

The team at Sikh Aware contacted the employer directly and also through the trade union and informed the employer that it is in potential breach of the Employment Relations Act and Human Rights Act and asked the employer to seek legal advice. On providing the relevant information regarding the potential breaches of the law, the employer agreed to allow Amandeep Singh back to the workplace while wearing the Kirpan. The employer also agreed to pay Amandeep Singh for the 4 days he was not allowed to come to work.

To resolve this entire issue, Sikh Aware also requested the assistance of Labour Party candidate Baljit Kaur who also engaged with the police and the local MP of Amandeep Singh’s electorate Louisa Wall who promptly replied and promised to assist and speak to the employer even on the weekend.  Baljit Kaur also spoke to the police who said that they are working on the letter and shall provide that soon.

Should any Sikh in New Zealand face any sort of issue in practicing Sikhi freely at school, college or at the workplace, they should contact Sikh Aware at [email protected] so that we can raise the same and bring about a positive outcome for both the parties.

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