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back to article Quarter of France Telecom staff 'psychologically vulnerable'

A quarter of staff at troubled telco France Telecom are on the verge of a nervous breakdown or worse according to a workforce study unveiled this week. France Telecom began an investigation into its staff morale after a recent spate of worker suicides at the constantly resizing telco. Unions at the firm said yesterday that the …

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps they should all be given

a box set of the acclaimed TV Show M.A.S.H. to bolster spirits.

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FAIL

The damage of civil service contracts

The resulst aren't surprising. The problem here is of open-ended civil service contracts (60,000 employees at France Telecom have these), which clearly state the employee cannot be fired. Read that again, whatever happens, the employee cannot lose his job. So with soaring debt a shrinking market and a huge surplus of employees that cannot be fired, the next best thing is to motivate them to leave. France Telecom even recently offered people the opportunity to leave and to start up a new business, all of which would be funded by France Telecom. If the new venture were to fail, they would be guaranteed a job on returning to France Telecom. This is the result of a "job for life" , the outdated Socialist idiom so prevalent in France today...

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Anonymous Coward

Wow!

That 'quit to start a business' thing is fantastic. I can't imagine anyone not taking them up on that... will they let you go through more than one cycle?

The real question is, does your startup have to guarantee its new employees jobs the same way, and thus end up funding *their* startups...

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Unhappy

Beinvenue..

a la monde Anglo-Saxon!

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Happy

Can I be the first to say ...

BOO!

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But what is...

... the baseline? Are 25% of the french population psychologically vulnerable?

Also by "psychologically vulnerable", do they mean "mad"?

If so, your average FT worker may be saner than your average UK.gov worker, and we should look to FT for some pointers as to how to improve things over here....

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Linux

Fish

I'd wager that another quarter of France Telecom's workforce are psychologically disturbed. How do I know? Because soon after buying Orange, someone at FT thought it would be a good idea to name mobile phone contracts after wild animals.

Existentialism = fish = 600 inclusive minutes.

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Also people management..

...Which is missing in most companies today since people are promoted on time served or skill at their role. Then they are responsible for managing other people and they suck at it.

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I'd be depressed too

if I worked for a giant telecoms company and I were French.

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Anonymous Coward

Life sure does suck....

when you can no longer spend your entire "working" life standing outside your workplace, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and making personal calls on your mobile phone.

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I know someone...

I live in France and one of the mothers at my children's school worked for France Telecom until she retired aged 35! Because she had 3 children she was allowed to retire after 15 years work, okay I assume her pension money is not very much but even so.

This sounds like unions playing with statistics. While every suicide at France Telecom is a tragedy the suicide rate in France Telecom is lower than the national average. 1 in 3 people will suffer from mental illness during their life, hence 33% of the population is phychologically vulnerable but only 25% of France Telecom employees are.

Having said that, is it phychologically safe to be proud to work for a company? 95% of the people who work from France Telecom have so little of interest in their life that simply working for a telecom company is enough to make them feel proud, is that healthy?

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Boffin

Marvellous fun this statistics lark is...

"1 in 3 people will suffer from mental illness during their life, hence 33% of the population is phychologically vulnerable but only 25% of France Telecom employees are"

Note the "during their life" bit! 25% of France Telecom employees are having such problems *right now*. That's pretty darn high. Prevalence of mental illness *right now* in the general population doesn't generally get much above the 10% mark, and that includes ailments that aren't very correlated with suicides, such as OCD, ADHD and narcolepsy.

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Anonymous Coward

Same here in Blighty

The figures are reflected here in the UK at their Orange sites with even seasoned staff quitting on the spot due to stress or depression. The number of people in work-related counselling is soaring. There's a culture of bullying, harassment, more breaches of employment law than you could shake a Dolphin's tail at. The biggest offence is to become ill or disabled. After a few hours of someone checking your call history over the entire course of your employment you will be sacked for a dropped call in 2006, not because you have to have chemotherapy frequently. Call in sick and a book will be run amongst team leaders betting that you are faking, betting on how long you'll be absent, and on whether you'll produce a sick note. So much for confidentiality eh? Govt advice about swine flu was backed up by simply sacking people who called in saying they'd been told to stay at home. Problem is that people know they are stuck there until the economy recovers. So they sit there, felled by flu and virtually chained to their desks.

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Thumb Down

Seriously?

Is it really that bad - just annoy someone a bit and they'll trawl through your call history and find something to get rid of you for?

Then again, 'call' suggests call centre, and they are modern-day sweat shops, so I shouldn't be surprised...

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Unhappy

Seriously?

I've done it as a stop-gap job and yes, that's absolutely serious. Even the better call centres monitor your calls, count your stats, shout at you if you dare to show the slightest irritation when dealing with the sort of fuckwit who has posted the critical comments on this forum and who treats call centre staff as a punch-bag for their tantrums.

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Alert

Unlike...

... the basket case management at BT / Global Services - who overestimated the value of their contracts, caused a write down of £1.6bn, in the recent round sacked 15000 employees and yet still took their sales team on an all expenses "moral booster" trip to stay at a luxury hotel in Provence, South of France.

I'd say with the advent of Skype, MSN and free global VOIP talk most folks working in telecoms these days are just a little bit worried.

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Boffin

Normalization

The suicide rate at France Telecom is not out of the ordinary for France as a whole; it employs roughly 100 000 people in France, and the suicide rate per 100 000 for people of working age is approx 21.5; much worse for men, at ~31.7 (year 2006 figures).

It's difficult to compare figures to the UK directly,but taking all age groups, France had 25.5 (men) and 9 (women) /100 000 in 2006 while the UK had 17 (men) and 5 (women)

So the question is not what is special about France Telecom, but what is particularly depressing about France?

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Happy

Call centers

> Is it really that bad - just annoy someone a bit and they'll trawl through your call history and find something to get rid of you for?

The one piece of work I've done that I'm truly ashamed of is a big call center management project. The main focus of the software was on micromanaging time and extracting the last drop of blood from a stone.

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re Normalization

<So the question is not what is special about France Telecom, but what is particularly depressing about France?>

Easy! The French

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