France Telecom, reeling from its 25th employee suicide in 18 months, has agreed not to merge or close any more sites until after Dec. 31.
On Oct. 15, a 48-year-old R&D employee in the Brittany town of Lannion hanged himself after taking a month off for sick leave. His death came two days after another France Telecom worker in Marseille was saved at the last minute from killing himself, media outlets reported.
France Telecom officials seem to have gotten the message that workers can’t handle the stress of restructuring. It said this week it’s halting reorganization efforts through the end of the year while it talks with its unions about working conditions. The formerly state-owned service provider has laid off 22,000 people since 2006. In a country known for 35-hour workweeks, lavish government benefits and a month off each summer, that’s a huge dose of capitalistic reality.
France Telecom made other changes this week, too.
The company said it will add 380 new jobs by the end of 2009, in the technical and sales departments, giving hiring priority to fixed-term contracts and apprentices. Officials also plan to bring 1,000 full-time outsourced jobs back in-house. And the operator said it will provide 10 more minutes each morning and evening to log on and off call center information systems, and 15 additional minutes each day to receive store orders.