New death in France Telecom 'suicide spiral'

29th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

A France Telecom worker left a note blaming pressures at the firm which has seen 24 suicides among its staff in less than two years before he jumped to his death.

Paris -- A France Telecom worker jumped to his death from a highway overpass on Monday, leaving a note blaming pressures at the firm which has seen 24 suicides among its staff in less than two years.
The 51-year-old father of two, from Annecy in the French Alps, jumped onto a busy highway during the morning rush hour, according to regional authorities.

"He left a letter to his wife explaining that it was the work environment in his company that pushed him to act," said the prefecture.

A France Telecom spokesman confirmed that one of its employees had committed suicide, saying that chief executive Didier Lombard was on his way to the Annecy call centre where the victim worked.

A former state monopoly now competing in a deregulated market, France Telecom has undergone several major reorganisations in recent years, leading to widespread complaints of stress among workers.

Management at the communications giant promised this month to review its personnel policies, to end what CEO Lombard called a "spiral of suicides" among its workers.

The firm has 100,000 employees and the suicide rate among its staff is not much higher than in the general population, but several of the victims killed themselves at work or after blaming the firm for their despair.

Local union leader Patrice Dochet reacted angrily to the latest death, denouncing work conditions in France Telecom's Annecy branch as "unbearable" and saying the firm had failed to draw lessons from the recent suicides.

Diochet, of the CFTC union, said the worker in question was recently transferred from an after-sales division to the Annecy call centre, and had been singled out as emotionally fragile.

"It's shameful. He worked in a service long known to be unbearable," he said. "There was a real indifference, no humanity, all they talked about was numbers and workers were treated like sausage meat."

"We thought the management would have learned a lesson."


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