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Moroccan rail workers win long-running discrimination battle with France’s SNCF

File photo | Known as the "Chibanis", Moroccan railworkers say they were deliberately passed over for promotion, were paid less, and were offered fewer retirement benefits.

France's rail operator SNCF on Wednesday lost its appeal against a 2015 ruling that found it guilty of discriminating against hundreds of Moroccan workers in the post-colonial era.


Details of the court ruling were not immediately available, but the SNCF is likely to face stiffer penalties. An earlier verdict, in September 2015, had ordered the rail operator to pay some 150 million euros in damages.

Known as “Chibanis”, the Moroccan workers were recruited in their home country starting in the 1970s to make up for labour shortages in France.

Their contracts did not give them the same rights as other SNCF employees, leaving them with lower pay, limited career opportunities and smaller pensions.

Wednesday’s ruling brought joy and relief to the plaintiffs “after decades of suffering” , said FRANCE 24’s Nicolas Rushworth, reporting from the Paris court.

As the verdict was announced, the Chibanis and their supporters burst into applause, shouting “Vive la France, vive la justice!

Lawyer Clelie de Lesquen-Jonas said the plaintiffs had won extra damage for the psychological harm inflicted on them, without specifying the amount.

SNCF, which has staunchly denied discriminating against the men, said it would examine the ruling for each of the cases and possibly appeal further, to a higher court.

A decade-long battle for justice: How the Chibanis took on the SNCF


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