- Title: FRANCE: France telecom under pressure after another employee suicide
- Date: 30th September 2009
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (SEPTEMBER 29, 2009) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF EXTERIORS OF SENATE, UPPER HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT, WHERE FRANCE TELECOM CEO WAS INTERVIEWED BY SENATORS
- Embargoed: 15th October 2009 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: Employment
- Reuters ID: LVAB6HMMPAPD6JV81T6M0OOH3EUP
- Story Text: Behind the closed doors of the Senate in Paris, France Telecom's Chief Executive Didier Lombard faced tough questions on Tuesday (September 28) over why dozens of his company's employees have recently been driven to suicide.
The hearing, supposed to be a formality following the announcement earlier this month of measures to improve welfare and ease stress, came only hours after a fresh suicide, the 24th since February last year.
With the death making front page news in the nation's papers, Lombard was expected to come under pressure to explain why the change from a government ministry to a private sector firm was apparently proving so traumatic for staff.
Lombard was greeted with howls and jeers late on Monday (September 28) when he visited the offices where the latest victim, named in local media as Jean-Paul Rouanet, worked.
Colleagues of the 51-year-old father of two stood by stony faced, as Lombard offered his condolences, near to posters demanding his immediate resignation.
The death could not have come at a worse time for the chief executive, who is faced with the challenge of changing the company from a jobs-for-life offshoot of the government into a lean and mean commercial outfit that is trying to make its mark in a competitive global economy.
Speaking after meeting with employees, he announced a suspension of individual staff objectives at the depot which unions say causes stress to many employees.
"We have just decided on the immediate suspension of individual objectives at this site as long as it takes to improve conditions here. Secondly, and at a national level, we are putting a halt to the principle of enforced mobility of managers every three years," he said, referring to the practise of moving managers on after a number of years -- another practise that has been blamed for the wave of deaths.
"Thirdly, we will raise in the national negotiations over stress which began last week all points that have been made by employees' representatives," he added.
But trades unions are increasingly vociferous in their criticism of the way Lombard is running the 102,000-strong company and are calling for more substantive measures to ease stress.
"Today, given the lack of measures that have been taken, one can say that they're murderers," said Jean-Paul Portello, a shop steward with the SUD FT union.
Rouanet's body was found at the bottom of a viaduct some 20 kilometres away from where he worked.
His death will further raise pressure on the French government, the company's largest shareholder, to be seen to act -- only two weeks after it called for more humane management at the giant company.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None