Suicides at France Telecom: ex-boss and Orange in correctional


PARIS (Reuters) – The former CEO of France Telecom, Didier Lombard, and six officers, whose responsibility is in issue in a wave of suicides in this business, will be judged by a correctional, as well as Orange as a legal entity.

Didier Lombard, the executive director of human resources of the time, Olivier Barberot, the former deputy director general, Louis-Pierre Wenes, are kept under court supervision until their future appearance before the court, specified in the order for reference, taken last Tuesday.

Didier Lombard became CEO of France Telecom (which later became Orange) in the beginning of 2005, and has committed to a restructuring plan draconian. A wave of dozens of suicide, suicide attempts and depressions that hit the company from 2006 to 2009, the year in which the plan NEXT was finally arrested after an employee has défenestrée in front of his colleagues.

The co-investigating judges in charge of the folder have retained the offences of harassment or bullying or complicity in bullying, but not of involuntary manslaughter, what regrets, the CFE-CGC, which was given to the civil party, and the union SOUTH.

These unions want a trial for example, said on Saturday to Reuters several of their representatives.

“It must serve as an example to never a management use of social violence to people. For the rest, it does not reduce our colleagues”, said the president of the CFE-CGC Orange’s Sebastien Crozier.

The lawyer of the CFE-CGC, Me, Frederic Benoist, said it was studying ways and means to obtain the legal qualification to be extended to involuntary manslaughter so that it “corresponds with the reality of a tragic case.”

The restructuring plan was aimed at reducing the workforce of France Télécom 22,000 people, to cause a change of occupation for 10,000 other employees and to recruit 6.000.

A report of the Inspection of the work delivered in 2010 to the justice concluded that the character of “pathogenic” methods of restructuring and management, such as forced mutations or performance goals impossible to reach.


It was also noted that alerts physicians of the work had been ignored.

To Me, Benoist denounces the fact that the leaders of the time had shown “a willingness to deliberately increase the intensity” of these methods of “knowing the damage that they cause and the dangers that that entailed”.

Christian Pigeon, a representative of the Sud union, for his part, says he is satisfied with this referring in correctional, while deploring the fact that “this happens quite late.”

“We would have preferred that the manslaughter is to be retained but for us it is the exemplary nature of this case and of this trial, for that the responsibility of the CEO on the health of employees to be recognized”, he said.

Most of the people prosecuted are now retired. The CFE-CGC deplores the fact that two of them have responsibilities in either Orange, either with a partner of Orange.

As Didier Lombard, he remained until 2017 member of the supervisory board of the company Radiall of the current president of the Medef Pierre Gattaz, reminiscent of the union.

Contacted, the company Orange has renewed its position of rejecting the charges brought against the management of France Telecom, emphasizing with the voice of a spokesman that it was “a company resolutely turned towards the future, in which employees say they are proud to work.”

“As she has said in the past, Orange is contesting these charges and explain during the public hearing that will be scheduled in the coming months”, said to Reuters the spokesman. “In the meantime, it is important to preserve the individuals concerned and ensure strict respect for the presumption of innocence.”

According to Me, Benoist, the trial was not expected before the second half of 2019.

(Arthur Connan and Emmanuel Jarry, edited by Caroline Pailliez)

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