Suicides Rise in French Corporations

A rash of suicides by workers in companies like France Telecom has caught the attention of government officials:

Those deaths have triggered a national debate about whether they’re evidence of a wider malaise in French factories and offices. France may be the land of the 35-hour workweek and the monthlong summer vacation, yet it had a suicide rate of 17.6 per 100,000 people in 2005, the third highest among Group of Eight countries. (Russia and Japan were first and second.) 

Estimates of how many suicides in France are work related vary. In 2008, private-sector employers reported 49 suicides stemming from “professional causes,” based on data compiled by Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Maladie des Travailleurs Salaries, France’s state-funded health insurer. Dominique Huez, a doctor who has studied workplace depression, says the real figure may be as many as 3,000 deaths, or about 30 percent of the total number of suicides in 2007, the last year for which statistics are available.

Seems that the short work weeks and bad economy pressured management to try and get the most they can out of workers.

“Employers are now trying to squeeze even more work out of their employees in order to get back the missing five hours,” Salengro [president of a medical association] says. “It lays the ground for the increase of stress and violence at work.”

As a result, the French government has ordered executives to meet with unions to find ways of reducing stress. Gee, I wonder what the unions will say. Perhaps a 30 hour work week and longer vacations? Just what the French economy needs!

This should make liberals think for a second or two before continuing the effort to remake America into the image of France.

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Posted January 27th, 2010 Filed in France