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French telecom giant Orange on trial over staff suicides

Published:Monday | May 6, 2019 | 1:58 PM
French unions members demonstrate at the start of the trial of French group France Telecom in front of the Paris' courthouse, Monday, May 6, 2019. French telecom giant Orange and seven former or current managers are going on trial accused of moral harassment over a wave of employee suicides a decade ago. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS (AP) — The toll is shocking: 19 suicides, 12 suicide attempts and eight cases of serious depression among employees at France’s main telephone and internet company over three years.

A long-awaited trial began Monday in Paris accusing the telecom giant Orange and seven former or current managers of moral harassment and other charges.

The company was called France Telecom at the time of the suicides.

The case initially involved 39 employees with mental health problems, including the almost half who killed themselves.

Another 126 people asked Monday to join the case, saying they also were damaged by what they call a culture of unsustainable pressure as Orange was undergoing job cuts and restructuring a decade ago.

Unions say France’s big companies haven’t learned any lessons from what happened at France Telecom, and about 200 activists demonstrated outside the courthouse Monday to urge a conviction.

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