A 51-year-old father of two has become the 24th France Telecom worker to commit suicide.
He leapt to his death from a motorway overpass after leaving a note blaming “the atmosphere at work”. A former state monopoly, now competing in a de-regulated market, France Telecom has undergone several major reorganisations in recent years, leading to widespread complaints of stress among the workforce. The company’s Chief Executive, Didier Lombard, was booed as he arrived at the call centre in Annency close to where the suicide took place. He told a hurriedly convened press conference changes would be implemented. “At national level, we will stop the practice of automatically moving managers on after three years,” he said. Earlier this month the French labour minister ordered an official to monitor France Telecom’s health and safety meetings following the spate of suicides. The company laid-off 22,000 staff between 2006 and 2008. Local union leader Jean-Claude Portello blamed the company’s restructuring programme. “Today the entire France Telecom board must resign,” he said. “This means the people responsible for these decisions only defend the interests of the shareholders, the interests of profit, but as for the the human aspect, they do not defend the workers at all.” France Telecom employs 100,000 peope. The suicide rate is not much higher than in the general population but several of the victims have killed themselves after blaming the company for their despair.