Executive resigns over work-related suicides

According to various media reports, a senior executive of France Telecome has resigned due to the mismanagement of the organisational restructure of the company which has been happening for almost two years and that, some say, has led to suicides.

One report says:

“France Telecom’s deputy chief executive Louis-Piere Wenes had faced calls to resign from employees who say management policies are responsible for the firm’s so called “spiral of death”.”

A UK newspaper includes a quote from M. Wenes:

“Despite the hard edge of the technological and economic fight, especially in our business, nothing can justify men and women putting an end to their lives. Today, like before, I cannot accept it.”

France Telecome’s media statement reads:

“Louis-Pierre Wenes, the current Deputy CEO in charge of Operations in France, has asked Didier Lombard, Chairman and CEO of France Telecom, to relieve him of his responsibilities. Didier Lombard has accepted this request and thanks Louis-Pierre for all that he has accomplished since December 2002 and for the significant contribution that he has made to the turnaround and the performance of the Group.

As of today, Stephane Richard is appointed Deputy CEO in charge of Operations in France.”

UPDATE: 7 October 2009

Additional information and links available HERE

Categories business, executives, OHS, safety, suicide, Uncategorized, workplaceTags , , , , ,

2 thoughts on “Executive resigns over work-related suicides”

  1. Debra

    I always put to my OHS clients the option of stopping doing something, particularly if it is potentially hazardous. As in life, careers should always have an exit plan in case a job or project turns sour.

    The misfortune in the France Telecome circumstance was one of timing. The restructure paralleled a major economic downturn. The company had the choice to change or wait it out. It chose to change at a time when job retention jumps to a high priority for workers. The global financial situation doubled the uncertainty of the workers.

    Some of the France Telecome articles report that the company moved to a depersonalised call centre structure – a structure that can be fraught with high stress levels and harsh working conditions, if not introduced carefully.

    Could France Telecome have tried to wait out the downturn and follow other companies with big redundancies and a corporate capital raising to control debt? Perhaps, but at least Louis-Pierre Wenes seems to have accepted responsibility for his decisions. It was a heavy cost to his employees and the families of the suicide victims, and it is now his cost to bear for the rest of his life.

  2. I have lived through a couple of restructures and it can be a very painful thing, professionally. Mainly because it stretches a person in ways they never imagined. Someone already said it \”…it is not worth folks taking their lives.\” Step out of that environment as professionally as possible and move on.

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