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Prosecutor's office probes suicides at France Telecom

The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an inquiry into human resources policies at France Telecom in response to formal complaints against the company after a spate of suicides at the ex-state monopoly.


AFP - The Paris prosecutor's office has begun probing harassment claims at France Telecom after a rash of suicides at the former state monopoly, a legal source said Friday.

The prosecutor opened the inquiry Thursday against persons unknown after legal authorities in February received a report from officials which questioned the company's human resources policies, the source said.

The SUD PTT trade union had also made a formal complaint against the company.

The officials from the labour inspectorate focused on 14 cases of "suicide, attempted suicide and pathological depression" which they believed were linked to the company's employment policies, the source said.

The officials believed these cases could lead to legal action, he added.

France Telecom chief executive Didier Lombard stepped down last month after coming under fire for his handling of a crisis that hit staff morale and led to a spate of suicides in the past two years.

France Telecom, Europe's biggest Internet provider and its third mobile operator that operates internationally as Orange, has undergone major restructuring to confront growing competition.

Although the suicide rate at France Telecom is lower than the French average, many of the employees have left notes blaming management decisions or stress at work.

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