back to article France Telecom blamed for another worker suicide

French politicians are calling on ex-monopoly France Telecoms to do more to stop a rash of suicides and attempted suicides among its staff. The latest was call centre worker Jean-Paul Rouannet, who jumped off a road bridge in the Alps on Monday, bringing total deaths amongst the telco's workforce to 24 in two years. The man …


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  1. Simon 39

    Not surprised

    This poor bastard was sent to do the job I do, but in Canada.

    "Rhymes with hell"

    I can totally understand how someone could be driven to suicide in this line of work.

    It's quarterly results uber alles, with ethics guidelines only for show.

  2. Colin Morris

    National Suicide Rate?

    From what I read last week, France Telecom have thousands upon thousands of staff and their suicide rate isn't that much different from the French rate as a whole (which is admittedly worse than many other European countries)

    What is the suicide rate for french people as a whole in full time employment? If that rate is not much different from France Telecom's rate then I fail to see what the story is here. The story regarding suicides would then become a National problem, as it should be anyway...

  3. Martin 19

    I call Bullsh*t

    So, they have a workforce of 100,000, and have had 24 suicides in 2 years. The official suicide rate for all of France is 17.6 /100,000/year, giving 35.2 suicides per 100,000 people, every 2 years.

    So, France Telecom's suicide rate is 47% lower than the French average, and the unions want the boss to 'take responsibility' for the suicides? What a fragrant load of Gallic bull.

  4. Andy 97


    Tragic that people are choosing to take their own lives. NO job is worth that!

    FT needs to be more clear with its staff as to plans, objectives and expectations.

    In other words, this company needs to give its staff a good listening to.

    I am a bit surprised that the 'pressure' is so great that the unions haven't called everyone out on strike however, after all, this is France.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Knowing someone who works there..

    The internal suicide helpline is not free for staff, they have to pay for the call, and any time talking on the suicide helpline is taken off of their "available" time so they have to make that up as well.

    The way the bonus system works, they cannot claim any commission unless they sell a certain amount of services before hand, most of the call center staff are already low paid and rely on any commissions that they gain from telephone sales. Being randomly moved, as is the case in France Telecom, could and does affect their sales without changing their sales targets. "Today work on the English helpline", when they speak only basic English will hit their sales to such a point that even buying food is a struggle.

    Posted anon, to protect said friend from being bullied.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    suicide rate

    "The company has 100,000 staff and insists that its suicide rate is not vastly different to that of France overall."

    Hmmm, yes, but its suicide rate *at work* (or in this case, with someone leaving a letter blaming his company) is definitely insanely higher than any other company in the country.

    I think this should put an end to UK journalists writting that France has the most protective workers law, which is untrue because :

    - bullying is legal in France: you have to prove a damage before sueing. Obviously, for this poor bloke, damage is here, but it's too late to sue. Imagine that nonsense in the UK !

    - as a consequence, bullying has evolved as a management tool to wipe employees, since they can't be fired, with consequences ranging from staff leaving, which is in essence a lay off, and what is described in this article.

    anon, still not willing to jump after years of bullying from his french employer.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Martin 19

    Although the Ref reported it as 24 suicides in 2 years, it is actually 24 suicides in 18 months, which averages at 16 deaths per 100,000, a lot closer than the national average.

    However, what you need to remember is that the national average is for the whole population, and the incidence of suicide in adults in full employment would generally be considerably less than this.

  8. Stef 2

    Clearly, the leads were weak

    Blake: You got leads. Mitch & Murray paid good money. Get their names to sell them. You can't close the leads you're given, you can't close shit, *you are* shit, hit the bricks pal, and beat it, 'cause you are going *out*.

    Shelley Levene: The leads are weak.

    Blake: "The leads are weak." The fucking leads are weak? You're weak. I've been in this business fifteen years...

    Dave Moss: What's your name?

    Blake: Fuck you. That's my name.

    [Moss laughs]

    Blake: You know why, mister? 'Cause you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, I drove an eighty thousand dollar BMW. *That's* my name.

  9. The Jase


    Remember that older El-Reg story that mentioned Ross Perot hiring mercenaries to spring employees out of jail? ->

    How things have changed, would France Telecom do the same now? And more importantly how close to suicide are Ellliot and Mr Dresden I wonder?

  10. Inachu

    Pitch sales fail

    No matter the language or the tone of language or given the hopes of certain dealings and no matter what is said and done andyou fail to win over clients then it is not the salesmans fault.

    Some Bosses keep pushing their products like an MLM strategy. Such as:

    "It only works if you truly believe it will work!" Or the:

    "Power of postive thought flows through you!"

    OK BOSS use your jedi mind tricks on your dog and your new born son and not me ok?

    Experts in the fields of giving the sales pitch or better pampering current clients can tell you:

    Pressuring current and or future customers = LOST SALES

    Makes the salesman look like shyster and a fool who is only wanting a fast buck.

    Seems France telecom = pure fail.

  11. John 104

    French Workers

    Not happy when they don't have jobs, and obviously not happy when they do....

  12. lord_farquaad

    few things

    First, French national figures : if you do consider the amount of suicides that are from teenagers, and if you do consider that there are no teenagers in France Télécom, then you can consider that the figures are more above French average than under.

    Then, what is worth considering, is the amount of people that are commiting suicide, mentioning the main reason for that is their work, and because of the pressure of their work, they no longer can cope with that.

    Then, this is very unusual. People generally comitting suicide because of personal problems. Not because of problems with their manager's pressure.

    Then, yes there may be civil servant that were not used to work with pressure. Then, I was shocked to see people (not in this forum) saying that it was the wikest that were failing.

    In fact, if you are looking at the average people that are comitting suicide, you discover that they were people that did succeed in the past, but because of the neverending structure remodelling, they were doing job they were not comfortible in, they were failing to cope with their workload, and their objectives. Then, themselves or their manager were telling them that they are weak and should leave.

    They are lost and are commiting suicide.

    Moreover, one important point to consider, is that in France, as FT is partially state owned, there has never been any redundancy plan. The government never allowed that to FT management, though that is necessary.

    But there are great pressure from the management to see people leaving the company. The bonuses of managers are based on how many people from their service are leaving the company. Anf those people are sometimes harassing the employees and bullying them, to drive them to resign.

    As a consequence of what, people are sometimes choosing a more extreme solution.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Going ..

    Well let's hope none of the workers go "Postal", given the availability of hunting weapons in France.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @suicide rate by AC

    There are generally 2 ways to deal with bullies of any kind.

    1: Ignore them as best you can.

    2: Have a nice friendly meeting between the bullies, a lead pipe and your self behind the bicycle shed (or equivalent).

  15. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Call Centres

    Battery farms for white collar slaves.

    I worked on a project to set one up once.

    Once it was running, I got away fast.





    * Although he/it/she doesn't actually exist.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    They deserve jailing

    Having previously spent several of the worst years of my life working for Orange I'm surprised ...surprised that those suicide figures aren't far far higher!

    Nastiest bunch of b***ards I've ever had the misfortune to ever have to mix with let alone have to endure working for and with them. They treat their employees appallingly and their outrageous disregard for employees rights and employment law is beyond belief. The bullying, harassment and malicious gossip extends towards its ex employees too.

    I hope each and every one of the families of those poor employees driven to their deaths hauls that company through the courts - only when its publically known what its like to work there might anything change for the better for the poor sods still enduring working there. So far its managed to stay under the radar because it buys off anyone seeking legal redress or harasses them to the point where they drop their case.

    Its obvious even from their response to the number of suicides - they couldnt give a sh*t..

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