France Telecom suicides result of management practices, claims union member

Management practices at a French phone giant have helped drive a number of workers to commit suicide, a union member has claimed.

The findings come as an employee at France Telecom – Orange’s parent company – has become the 25th employee to take his own life in two years.

Last month, Personnel Today reported that France Telecom would hire 100 new HR advisers and work with unions to tackle workplace stress following the suicides.

Speaking at a seminar of Orange staff, Pierre Dubois, a member of the French Democratic Confederation of Labour, told how there had been 25 suicides and at least 12 other attempts at the firm over the past 18 months.

He explained the pressure on workers has grown since privatisation in 2000, with the ethos of moving from a providing a service to making a profit.

According to communications union CWU, Dubois said the average age at the company was 50, which made it difficult to change their ways, adding the firm wanted to get rid of 32,000 people.

People would be redeployed to far away places to force them out, he said.

The company has initially denied that the suicides were because of work but the suicide notes referred to the stress that the individuals concerned has been under.

Now, deputy chief executive Louis Pierre Wenes has resigned, being replaced by Stephane Richard, a former chief of staff at the French Treasury.

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