Ford managers guilty of abusing Asian worker

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The Independent Online

The carmaker Ford's company's policy of "zero tolerance of racism" was in tatters once more yesterday when managers were found guilty of victimising and abusing an Asian worker.

An employment tribunal found Shinda Nagra, who worked at an engine plant in Dagenham, suffered three years of discrimination, intimidation and bullying.

Mr Nagra, 44, told how, on one occasion, a group of employees walked out because they did not want to work with him because of his race.

In another incident, a supervisor kicked away some food he was eating, saying "If I had control, I would not allow Indian food inside. It smells horrible and stinks the place out." He was routinely referred to as a "Paki".

Part of the company's personnel policy refers to "zero tolerance of harassment" which includes "ethnic slurs, racial epithets ... other provocative language".

The tribunal at Stratford, East London delivered its 27-page report four months after a six-day session heard an account of Mr Nagra's suffering.

An investigation by a manager into complaints confirmed there had been racial discrimination but failed to result in disciplinary action against two managers been accused of victimising him.

Mr Nagra, who came to Britain from India when he was 17 and now has a son and daughter at university, has been unable to work since he left Ford in 1999. A colleague of Mr Nagra, Sukhjit Parma, suffered abuse and threats and had been confronted with images of the Ku-Klux-Klan, a previous tribunal found.

Mr Parma suffered years of routine abuse by his foreman and his team leader. Once, he opened his sealed pay packet to find the word "Paki" scrawled inside. In another incident, he saw graffiti threatening to throw him to his death, where he would join "nigger Lawrence"– a reference to the murdered schoolboy Stephen Lawrence.

Following the allegations made by Mr Parma, Jac Nasser, the president of Ford came to Britain and declared the company had to change.

In 1996, Ford published an advertisement brochure in which all the black and brown faces had been erased and replaced with white ones.

Both Ford and Mr Nagra have been granted 28 days to negotiate a compensation package.

In a statement yesterday the company sought to stress the issues about which Mr Nagra complained occurred in the 1990s and were "thoroughly investigated".

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