Wave of staff suicides at France Telecom

Discussion in 'Economics' started by Debaser82, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. France Telecom is struggling to deal with a wave of staff suicides which has seen more than 20 workers take their lives in the past 18 months – some leaving notes blaming job stress and misery at work.

    Today a technician in Troyes, south-east of Paris, stabbed himself in front of other staff during a management meeting. He had been told his job was to be cut. The man, in his 50s, was being treated in hospital for a stomach wound last night and was said to be stable.

    France Telecom, whose key brand is Orange, is Europe's third largest mobile phone operator and biggest provider of broadband internet services. After what union leaders at France Telecom called a "spiral" of suicides over recent years – six staff have killed themselves since mid-July – the company has promised better medical support for workers and will today enter negotiations with unions to tackle workplace stress.

    However, unions have warned that the company's entire management approach must be overhauled and some have called for strike action in Brittany on the same day. Trade union representatives at the company have blamed restructuring cuts, extreme pressure, bullying and poor management methods – which, they say, have worsened since privatisation.

    On 29 August, a 53-year-old France Telecom technician and father of three killed himself in Lannion in Brittany. Colleagues and trade unionists blamed his death on difficulties surrounding his rank within the company and "infantile" management procedures.

    Earlier in August, a 28-year-old worker was found dead in his garage in Besançon in the east of France. He had left a note that talked of his girlfriend, but also mentioned how he felt "helpless" and "angry" over issues at work. The prosecutor said it was impossible to formally establish a link between France Telecom and the suicide, but workers held a protest march over his death.

    On 14 July, another 52-year-old employee killed himself in Marseille, leaving behind a note blaming "overwork" and "management by terror". He wrote: "I am committing suicide because of my work at France Telecom. That's the only reason."

    Pierre Gojat, head of a trade union stress watchdog at the company, said he was "scandalised by [this] latest act of despair" after the Troyes worker stabbed himself. France Telecom issued a statement, saying the employee's life "was not in danger" and that he had been offered another post in the same town and at the same level.

    Earlier this week, the company's director of human resources told Le Monde it was "too simplistic" to affirm a simple cause and effect relationship between issues at work and the staff deaths. He said experts had told the company that suicides were usually caused by various factors, rather than one unique problem.

    Twenty-nine France Telecom staff took their own lives in 2002 and another 22 in 2003. The French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT) union said 22 France Telecom staff had killed themselves since February 2008.


    Is this too esoteric to talk about on the economic board? If not I'd be interested in your opinions.:)
  2. Waves of suicide seem to affect social networks from time to time. Historically, there was a rash of suicides in German speaking europe following Gothes' The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) - young men dressed as Werther and then killed themselves because it appeared to be 'fashionable'!

    Whether there is a corporate culture that facilitates this in France Telecom I can't say but 'working to death' is a known entity in Japan - Karoshi.


    This topic is near & dear to my heart. I think it is more common than we acknowledge. Think of Wasserstein's death today. If he was offered in his last seconds to trade all of his wealth for 20 more years of life, don't you think he would have done so?

    For those of us who are achievers, it is hard to conciously decide to accept 'enough'. That includes enough work. What a sad world we live in where you achieve material success only to have worked so hard and focused so narrowly that you cannot concieve of anything more than work?

    We laud productivity without considering that the displaced workers productivity gains came at the expense of the remaining employed's health and sanity. Reductio ad absurdum, but do we really want one person running around the country doing everyone's job? WHY is increasing productivity through work shifting beneficial - it seems to me that people would be more inclined to make real gains if they had the time to think, not just scurry around putting out fires all day long. But thats not the quarter-to-quarter earnings world we live in. C'est la Vie.

    Philosophy class is over. If you're one of those 20-30 somethings and have done well for yourself, you'd be wise to ask yourself these questions.
  3. steph,

    I always enjoy your wisdom-rich posts
  4. maxpi


    WIN stands for Work is Nonprofit.. people take jobs way too seriously... and they need to sign up for maxpi's course in "redirecting stress back to the source: how to harass a bully into complete meltdown".

    Chapter one deals with making a plan..

    D-day minus 60: subscribe to the filthiest magazine you can find. Put the bully's name on as the subscriber but put his neighbor's address on the delivery address..

    D-day minus 59: Send the letter outlined in chapter 4 to his wife informing her that by law since a doctor has diagnosed her husband with an STD she has to come in for a checkup...

    D-day minus 58: install the keystroke recording software on the bullies computer...

    D-day minus 57: Send the emails outlined in chapter 3 to the company CEO..

    :D :eek:
  5. On paper they do but its probably closer to 60+ for many staff. Last company I worked at always stated that the working week was 38 hours but most people were on 50 some were clocking up 72 all overtime unpaid off course.
  6. That was fairly entertaining. Got any more?
  7. vexed


    Thank you. Sometimes you read things that hit home very strongly.
  8. Nationalistic pompousity and maturity aside, doesn't this merely perpetuate the belief that the French are a bunch of wimps and "quitters"? :confused:
  9. If only! :p

    Quitting I can (most definitely) understand if something is too abusive and you can't tolerate it. Or, perferably, talking shit about the abuser(s) - talking to friends, gossipng, start a blog, etc. - and letting people know what an absolute piece-of-shit they are.

    Or if you want to get agressive and absolutely don't care anymore, make sure you bust some caps into your abuser (pick one or two, at that point, it really doesn't matter) before the authorities catch-up with your crazy ass ... but just taking your own life, with no fucking payback!?#!??

    Oh hell the fuck, no! :mad:
  10. That may be on the verge of happening in the French Postal System. :eek:
    #10     Oct 15, 2009