Feeds

Ex-France Telecom CEO probed over staff suicide spate

Supremo quizzed in court after union cried foul

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Former France Telecom chief executive Didier Lombard is under investigation following a spate of staff suicides at his firm in 2008 and 2009.

Lombard was in charge of the company when more than 30 employees took their lives and others attempted to kill themselves amid mass redundancies at the telco.

A court in Paris, which is conducting the probe, will decide whether or not to bring charges of harassment against the firm's management or even the company itself.

The case was opened after trade union SUD-PTT filed a formal complaint. The union said yesterday that it welcomed the court's decision to investigate Lombard.

"A trial must take place and we hope it will unveil the responsibilities and dismantle the mechanisms that led to this crisis of suicides at France Telecom," SUD-PTT said in a canned statement.

Lombard, who stepped down as CEO early in 2010 because of the crisis, was questioned in the court on Wednesday. On the same day, he defended himself in an article in French newspaper Le Monde.

"I strongly doubt that these plans, which were essential to the survival of the company, may have been the cause of the human tragedies cited in support of complaints," he wrote.

"Giving up these plans would certainly have had painful consequences for the group and for the employment of its employees," he added.

Lombard was referring to the massive upheaval at the firm that saw headcount reduced by 22,000 while 10,000 more were moved into new positions. The restructure came 10 years after the privatisation of the company.

Unions claimed that the forced moves and impossible performance targets imposed on people who used to be civil servants – many of whom had "protected employment" status, presumably making it difficult to fire them – were partly to blame for the suicides. But France Telecom said at the time that the proportion of suicides in its workforce was the same as the overall rate in France.

Lombard was released on bail of €100,000 ($125,000, £80,307), Reuters reported. If he is charged and found guilty of harassment, he could face up to one year in prison as well as a €15,000 ($18,766, £12,046) fine. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.