NSW discrimination changes urged

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NSW discrimination changes urged

Unions say El-Masri is not the only Muslim facing problems in the workplace following the September 11 attacks in the US last year.

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The case of a Muslim worker threatened with the sack unless he stops praying has prompted NSW unions to call for religion to be added as a ground of discrimination to that state's Anti-Discrimination Act.

Labor Council of NSW secretary John Robertson said today that while most people would assume such discrimination was unlawful, NSW laws did not cover discrimination on religious grounds separately.

Rather, the ground of race covers 'ethno-religious origin', but if a religion - for example Christianity, or Islam - does not have one ethno-religious origin, there is no ground for discrimination.

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board has already made an application to the Australian Law Reform Commission about changing the Act.

Robertson's appeal comes the day after computer technician Kamal El-Masri and his firm, Total Peripheral Group, appeared in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in Sydney after the company ordered El-Masri to stop praying during 'unauthorised' breaks. It also took away his access to the room he had been praying in.

Muslims pray five times a day, and two of these sessions fell during El-Masri's work hours. He used to pray in his lunch hour, and also cut that lunch hour short by the time it took for his mid-afternoon prayers.

But after 18 months of this practice, TPG imposed a strict lunch hour for all workers and, despite giving El-Masri a day's grace today, will be back before the AIRC on Monday to either present a solution, or face arbitration.

Unions say El-Masri is not the only Muslim facing problems in the workplace following the September 11 attacks in the US last year.

 
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