Daily Management Review

A Wave Of Staff Suicides A Decade Ago Will See French Telecom Executives Facing Trial


06/25/2018




A Wave Of Staff Suicides A Decade Ago Will See French Telecom Executives Facing Trial
The alleged role of employee suicides of top officials of a France Telecom Didier Lombard would now be investigated by French courts about a decade after the incidents had occurred.
 
Among those accused include the head of the telecom company and six other executives as well as the telecoms operator Orange would have to stand trial over their alleged roles.
 
According to the court order as obtained by the media, accusations of engaging in or assisting psychological harassment have been brought in against the accused. Additionally., placed under court supervision until trial was Lombard, a former human resources head and a deputy CEO.
 
“As it has always said, Orange rejects the accusations and will make its case during the public hearing which will be scheduled in the coming months,” an Orange spokesman said.
 
The move was “absurd”, said Jean Veil, Lombard’s lawyer.
 
There can be punishment of upto two years in prison and 30,000 euros ($35,000) in fines for the crime of “moral harassment”.
 
More than 30 employees had committed suicides over two year period starting in 2008 in a series of employee suicides. The employees were engaged with France Telecom which has changed its name to Orange since those incidents. The suicides included a man who stabbed himself in the stomach while attending a staff meeting as well as a woman who threw herself out of a window.
 
5 employees committed suicide in 2010 within a short span of 10 days in a period that was particularly difficult for them. Those suicides were blamed on workplace related stress.
 
The management of the telecom company had allegedly used “pathogenic” restructuring methods like forcing people to settle into new jobs and demanding performance objectives that were virtually unattainable, said a report from the labor inspectors in 2010.
 
Amid criticism of his handling of the crisis, Lombard resigned from the position of CEO of Orange in early 2010. Lombard has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in an investigation that was conducted about the suicides.
 
“This must serve as an example so that management never again uses social violence to get people to leave,” said the head of the CFE-CGC union at Orange, Sebastien Crozier.
 
The restructuring plan that was undertaken at France Telecom was aimed to bring down the company’s employee number by 22,000 and transferring about 10,000 people into new roles and jobs and hiring about 6,000 new employees.
 
Currently, all but two of the accused executives are retired.
 
The trial is not anticipated to begin before the second half of 2019, said a lawyer for the CFE-CGC union.
 
(Source:www.globalnews.ca)






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