Car maker Renault is facing possible prosecution for the suicides of three workers at its technical centre in Paris, after the French Work Inspectorate submitted the findings of its investigation to the public prosecutor.
Three employees at the company’s state-of-the-art Technocentre killed themselves between October 2006 and February 2007.
In linking the three suicides, the inspectorate has added weight to union claims that Renault, as employer, should be held responsible and the deaths treated as workplace accidents.
Unions have claimed that harassment at work played a part in the deaths of the engineers, who worked on the conception and design of new vehicles.
Renault has insisted that there is no link between the suicides and working conditions, and that the suicides were isolated acts.
Renault is also under pressure from France’s state health insurance agency, which performed a U-turn and declared that the first of the three suicides should be considered an accident at work, having previously said it shouldn’t.
The company has lodged an appeal contesting the agency’s decision.
An employee support plan was drawn up following the deaths, aimed at improving working conditions.
Separately, an assembly line worker at rival manufacturer Peugeot was found hanged at a plant in Mulhouse in eastern France. This was the sixth suicide at the company since the start of the year, a trend that unions have again linked to work pressures.
Police are said to have found a computer disc belonging to one of the victims, containing details of his working conditions.
The latest suicide comes a fortnight after Peugeot had set up a free telephone helpline for staff seeking psychological help.