France Telecom employee hangs himself, becomes 25th suicide
A France Telecom employee committed suicide on Thursday, becoming the 25th staff member to kill himself over the past 20 months at the former state monopoly.
The 48-year-old engineer hung himself in his Brittany home, one month after he had taken medical leave following a recommendation from the company doctor, a France Telecom spokesman said.
The latest death brought the number of employees who have taken their lives since February last year to 25 at France Telecom, which has been undergoing major restructuring.
Many of the employees have left notes blaming management decisions or stress at work.
France Telecom chairman Didier Lombard was "profoundly shaken" by the latest death and immediately traveled to the company's office in Lannion, where the man worked, said the spokesman.
It was the second suicide among employees at the Lannion R & D centre. A technician killed himself in August, without leaving a note.
The telecoms giant, which employs 100,000 people in France and trades internationally as Orange, announced a raft of measures last month to end what Lombard has called a "death spiral" at the company.
The company's deputy chief executive Louis-Pierre Wenes, architect of the modernisation drive that has been blamed for the wave of staff suicides, resigned this month.
Management imposed a freeze on all personnel transfers and offered more psychological counselling to staff, but there have been more deaths.
A 51-year-old man threw himself from a highway overpass in the Alpine city of Annecy at the end of September, becoming the 24th employee on the suicide list.
Firefighters in the southern city of Marseille arrived at the home of another employee on Tuesday, just in time to find him hanging from the basement ceiling, but still alive.
Although the suicide rate among France Telecom staff is lower than the overall average, many of the victims have killed themselves at work or have left letters blaming work conditions for their despair.
The five unions at France Telecom issued a joint statement saying staff "were still in danger. This is intolerable and unacceptable."