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Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK

Business: The Company File

Ford apologises to race victim

Sukhjit Parma broke down in tears as he spoke

Car giant Ford has apologised to an Indian worker who suffered years of racial abuse and threats at the hands of colleagues.

The BBC's Stephen Evans:"Ford has had trouble before"
Sukhjit Parma was taunted with images of the extreme white-supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan when he worked at Ford's Dagenham plant in Essex.

He had graffiti scrawled on his pay packet, was threatened with physical assault and was sent to work in an area known as the "punishment cell" - where he had no protective mask in a small, fume-filled spray booth.

[ image: Ford's advert sparked fury]
Ford's advert sparked fury
Mr Parma, 34, broke down in tears after winning an employment tribunal and describing what he had suffered.

He has been off sick since August and forced to take extra security measures on the advice of police.

Ford has sacked one employee and a foreman has been demoted over the abuse.

The Metropolitan Police were called in to investigate some of the complaints but no charges were brought.

The company has admitted liability and is negotiating with his lawyers over a settlement.

His union described it as the worst case of racial abuse it had ever come across.

[ image: John Gardiner: Zero tolerance policy]
John Gardiner: Zero tolerance policy
Transport and General Workers Union chief Bill Morris said: "What we have here is yet a further example of the worst possible case of institutionalised racism where a company has consistently and systematically failed."

Ford spokesman John Gardiner said the company has a zero tolerance policy over discrimination or harassment of any kind.

Ford has been in trouble over racism before. There was an outcry when it was revealed it had changed black faces to white in a company photo for an advert.

White lorry drivers also attempted to operate a whites-only recruitment policy.

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