La Poste began its consultative programme today to hear concerns from staff and their unions, after this weekend saw the second suicide at the company in the space of just 10 days.
A 42-year-old worker at a sorting centre in Trégunc, in the Finistère area of Brittany, was found dead at the plant on Sunday.
The unidentified man in question had been on leave with depression, but had had problems with his bosses at work, according to unions, and had sent an email prior to his death stating that he hoped his actions “lead to something positive and constructive for the company and our colleagues”.
Earlier this month, a 28-year-old worker in another part of Brittany killed himself, complaining of an “oppressive” work culture.
As the third such incident at the French national postal service in the last six months, media commentators are now pointing to similarities with a series of staff suicides at France Telecom, where more than 60 staff took their own lives from 2008 to April 2011.
La Poste issued a statement yesterday stating that it was “overwhelmed” by the tragedy and the grief of the family of the man.
The company said a psychological support unit had been immediately set up for colleagues in the Trégunc facility.
Detailing its “listening tour”, La Poste said: “The La Poste Chairman Jean-Paul Bailly is beginning a listening tour on occupational health. Within this framework, all unions will be heard this week.”
Following these discussions with unions, La Poste is intending to make proposals to improve worker wellbeing, but is also intending a second stage of consultation before this summer, engaging with officers and managers as well as external experts on occupational health issues.
The La Poste chairman has promised action following this second stage of consultations.
The unions meeting with Bailly this week have complained at the major reforms at La Poste and the pressures that workers have been under while the company has been working to improve its profitability.
They have warned that the incidence of depression among mail workers is currently at an “alarming scale”.
The CFDT union, which was due to meet with the La Poste chairman this evening, said with its “calamitous changes” in the organisation, La Poste had “broken the social contract” it had with its workers, claiming that the latest suicide victim had been “sacrified on the altar of profitability”.
The union said yesterday: “Jean-Paul Bailly is obliged to send a strong message towards mail carriers, and is obliged to undertake a radical reform of the social charter. His responsibility is huge, he has misjudged the words of warning and underestimated the risks of psychological burdens on mail staff.”
Source: Post&Parcel/La Poste/CFDT