French Labour Minister Xavier Darcos is to meet the head of the country's main telecommunications company to discuss a number of suicides among its staff. Twenty-three employees of France Telecom have killed themselves since the beginning of 2008.
Unions blame tough management methods at the multinational, which was privatised in 1998. In the latest suicide occurred on Friday, when a 32-year-old woman leapt to her death at a France Telecom office in Paris.
Two days earlier, a 49-year-old man in Troyes, east of Paris, had plunged a knife into his own stomach during a meeting in which he had been told he was being transferred.
The unions say a never-ending drive for efficiency is causing emotional havoc in the workforce - especially among older employees recruited when France Telecom was part of the public sector. Since privatisation in 1998 some 40,000 jobs have gone, and unions say there is pressure on many employees either to leave or to accept new working conditions. Tough life!