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Layoffs and restructuring being blamed for the wave of suicides at France Telecom

>> Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ABC's Christophe Schpoliansky reports from Paris:

A wave of employee suicides or attempted suicides continues to affect France Telecom SA. Yesterday, a 53-year-old woman tried to kill herself in a Metz office of the telecommunications giant by swallowing pills. She had just been told that her mission was over and that she would be subject again to geographic mobility. The woman survived and is now out of danger. The day before, a 32-year-old woman threw herself out of a fourth-floor window of her office building in Paris. She had been involved in discussions on restructuring. Unions blame this wave partly on layoffs and restructuring at France Telecom.

In all, 23 employees over 18 months have committed suicide. 100,000 people work for the French telecom company.

According to the INSERM (the national institute of health and medical research), the French suicide rate was 17.1 per 100,000 people in the entire French population in 2006, the latest available year of data.

The French state owns 26.7% of France Telecom and 70% of its agents are state employees.

Today, the President of the company is scheduled to meet with the French labour minister to discuss the situation.

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