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France Telecom suicides: Former bosses face trial

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The former chief executive of France Telecom and six other managers are to stand trial over a spate of suicides among their staff in the late 2000s.Prosecutors have long claimed they presided over a culture of harassment at the firm that led at least 19 employees to kill themselves. They are accused of “moral harassment”.Ex-boss Didier Lombard and his fellow defendants deny their tough restructuring measures in 2006 were to blame for the subsequent loss of life. The push for greater efficiency came two years after the company was privatised. Mr Lombard was trying to cut 22,000 jobs and retrain at least 10,000 workers.”I’ll get them out one way or another, through the window or through the door,” he was quoted as telling senior managers in 2007.Some were transferred away from their families or left behind when offices were moved, or assigned demeaning jobs.From 2008 onwards, at least 19 members of staff took their own lives, 12 attempted suicide and eight others suffered from depression and related illnesses.Among the cases documented: In 2009, a woman aged 32 took her own life at work in Paris
A woman tried to kill herself in the eastern city of Metz on learning that she was about to be transferred for the third time in a year
A man was found dead at home, after apparently writing a letter blaming his job
In 2011 a worker aged 57 tried to kill himself as he arrived at work near Bordeaux

Mr Lombard has accepted the restructuring upset employees but rejected the idea that it led to people taking their own lives.France Telecom became Orange in 2013.”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 in response to news of the trial.If found guilty the defendants could face two years in prison and 30,000 euros ($35,000) in fines.
Source: BBC News

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