24th Suicide Hits France Telecom

Stressed-out call center worker jumps from bridge, blames company
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2009 4:10 AM CDT
People stand by the entrance to the headquarters of France Telecom SA in Paris.    (AP PHOTO/Michel Euler, file)
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(Newser) – A call-center worker has become the 24th victim of what France Telecom calls a "spiral of suicides" among its employees over the last 18 months. The 51-year-old father of two jumped from a bridge onto a highway during morning rush hour in a small town in the French Alps, the Independent reports. He left a note blaming "the atmosphere at work" for his suicide. Union officials say the man had been under pressure since being shifted to a role cold-calling potential customers.

French government officials recently met with executives to insist the company devise a plan to address the problem. "This is shameful," said a union spokeswoman. "He was working in a call-center which was known to be insufferable. There was no interest in people as individuals, no humanity. They only cared about figures. The employees were treated like minced meat."