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An Exemplary Legal Battle against Union Discrimination at the Peugeot-Sochaux Plant (1995-2000)

Nicolas Hatzfeld
Traduction de Patricia Finn
p. 31-54


The end of the 1990s will be remembered for the protracted legal battle between blue-collar CGT (Confédération générale du travail – General Confederation of Labour) union members and the management of the Peugeot-Sochaux car assembly site (PSA group). A group of CGT-affiliated skilled workers wishing to expose a history of discrimination against trade union members finally decided to take legal action against the PSA management. Assisted by legal experts and lawyers dedicated to their cause, and after a series of initial legal proceedings via the usual channels, the scope and jurisdiction of the initial claim was extended and the group succeeded in proving the existence of systemic intentional discrimination towards union members. Not only would this successful outcome put an end to a policy of trade union repression spanning over three decades, it also threw fresh light on the relation between career advancement (or lack thereof) and union activity at local union level. Finally, this victory would serve as a model across the union movement as a whole.

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Notes de la rédaction

Article published in French in Travail et Emploi, no 145, janvier-mars 2016.

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Complementary Legal Procedures
From Solid Evidence to Exemplary Cases of Discrimination…
… To the Exposure of the System
The Dismantling of a Repressive Approach

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At the end of the 1990s CGT labour activists at the PSA plant filed a series of complaints against their employers for discrimination, the aim being to prove, stop and obtain compensation for discriminatory practices spanning several decades. Even if this type of initiative was nothing new, on this occasion the different judges ruled in the union’s favour, obliging the PSA management to modify their usual uncompromising stance and, for a change, negotiate and bargain with employees. Compensation was awarded for accumulated loss of wages and deliberate obstruction to career development. As regards this latter point, career advancement, which had remained static for years –without any apparent grounds– was subsequently reviewed. This unprecedented result sent shock waves throughout PSA and in the region. Suddenly, the company, up to then a key employer and a major provider of local employment, lost its foothold. On the national level, both management and union representatives at PSA –...

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Référence papier

Nicolas Hatzfeld, « An Exemplary Legal Battle against Union Discrimination at the Peugeot-Sochaux Plant (1995-2000) », Travail et Emploi, Hors-série | 2017, 31-54.

Référence électronique

Nicolas Hatzfeld, « An Exemplary Legal Battle against Union Discrimination at the Peugeot-Sochaux Plant (1995-2000) », Travail et Emploi [En ligne], Hors-série | 2017, mis en ligne le 30 décembre 2017, consulté le 21 novembre 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/travailemploi.7618

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Nicolas Hatzfeld

University of Évry Val d’Essonne, Institutions et dynamiques historiques de l’économie et de la société (IDHES);

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