France T�l�com needs 'radical change' after suicides says report

France Télécom must change quickly and radically to end its suicide crisis, according to a report

43 of the company's employees have committed suicide since January 2008, including eight this year. The deaths have been attributed to working practices at the company, although the suicide rate may not be statistically greater than in any similar group of people.

The report, by human resources consultancy Technologia, makes 107 recommendations based on 500 face-to-face interviews with France Télécom employees. Among these it calls for an end to reorganisations, better monitoring of risk factors and the creation of an internal network of mediators to make the personnel department more accessible.

Jean-Bernard Orsoni, a France Télécom spokesman, confirmed the authenticity of the Technologia report to the IHT, and said the company was meeting with unions to discuss the recommendations.

“But we don’t have a magic wand that we can wave and just fix the problem in a few weeks,” he added.

The report says the new management, who took over on 1 March, must move quickly “to take charge and encourage radical change”. And it gave them a “few weeks” to install a new leadership style to address the crisis.

The company has already announced an overhaul to improve its human resources management and simplify its management structures so lines of authority are clearer. It has also stopped forcing employees to change jobs, and closing sites.

France Télécom has been largely privatised, but retains some aspects of a state monopoly, including a work force many of whom are civil servants with lifetime job guarantees.

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