French national rail operator SNCF has apologised after the following poster was placed in stations telling employees to be on the lookout for Romanians after a spate of thefts.

The poster, titled "security bulletin", was spotted in several stations in the Toulouse area of south-western France.

The poster reads: "In the last few weeks, there have been some problems with Romanians. A number of baggage thefts have been reported. We ask you to be vigilant and to report any activity involving Romanians to the PCNS (rail security services)."

A member of rail union Sud-Rail reported the poster to the SNCF authorities, complaining that staff did not want to be associated with the racist overtones of the directive.

In a letter to the SNCF president and to the head of the regional council, the union said "the instruction, in the context wherein xenophobia and the stigmatisation of immigrants is becoming more intolerable on a daily basis, should be condemned in the strongest possible terms."

The union said that, with increased layoffs of staff, a culture of asking employees to report on the activities of passengers was sinister in the extreme.

"What next?" the union demanded. "Will they be asking us to look out for Jews, or to look out for communists or trade unionists? Do they want us to go back to the days of the Vichy [collaborationist government during the Nazi occupation]?"

In response, the SNCF said it regretted "the initiative of one individual employee" and that the document "was written in terms that the SNCF does not agree with and does not endorse."

Roma /  racism /  France