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New suicide puts pressure on France Telecom chief

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New suicide puts pressure on France Telecom chief


The latest suicide of a France Telecom worker has sparked new calls for the chief executive to resign. Didier Lombard faced new attacks from political enemies and unhappy staff, after a 24th employee killed himself since the start of last year. The tragic deaths are blamed on stress at work, and Lombard said the company would try to ease the pressure:

“There is pressure to do the job, because of competition from our rivals and because of rules and regulations,” he said. “But we will try to lessen that pressure, and be more human in our working practices.” The latest victim was a 51-year-old father-of-two who threw himself off a bridge near the Alpine town of Annecy. He left a note for his wife in which he blamed pressure at work for ending his life. The man, like many of the other victims, had recently changed jobs, moving to a call centre where he faced performance targets. France Telecom will now end compulsory job changes. “The problem with changing work practices is that the employees don’t think they’re doing a good job,” said France Telecom company doctor Catherine Morel. “That leads to a drop in self-esteem, which can provoke anxiety and depression.” A friend of the man, who did not want to be identified, explained the pressure France Telecom workers are under: “They are making us feel guilty. They say: you’ve been trained, so get on with it. It creates ill-will, but that’s how they operate.” Critics say Lombard must go; the Socialist Party said it was ‘‘a matter of common decency.’‘ But the government insisted his resignation is not on the agenda.

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