46 suicides at France Telecom, 9 at Foxconn - the human cost of cheap bandwidth and gadgets?

Summary:Foxconn isn't the only tech company with large numbers of staff suicides, French Telecom has a much bigger problem...

Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer of electronics products for Apple and many others, has reported 9 suicides among its workforce and is fighting allegations of being a sweatshop.

It's not the only tech company with a suicide problem, France Telecom's is much higher, with 46 suicides, and now a government investigation.

Both sets of suicides are blamed on work place stress.

The Real Truth Behind Foxconn’s Suicide Cluster » M.I.C Gadget

The Foxconn suicide mess is all started from job stress. Within half a year, there are 9 suicides with 7 confirmed-deaths in Foxconn’s factory of China, Shenzhen. In order to find out what’s really going on in that factory, the Southern Weekly, described by The New York Times as China’s most influential liberal newspaper, has sent an amateur reporter to slip into Foxconn’s factory to pretend as a worker and the mission is to find out the truth of the suicide cluster.

FT.com / UK - Fresh probe on France Telecom suicides

The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into allegations of "workplace harassment" at France Telecom following a spate of suicides at the company, it emerged yesterday.

The former monopoly is also being investigated for failing to document properly the health risks facing its employees.

...In 2008 and 2009, 35 of the company's employees committed suicide, laying bare a deep crisis in morale among its 100,000-strong French workforce. The crisis has continued, with a further 11 employees taking their own lives since the beginning of 2010.

Stéphane Richard, France Telecom's new chief executive, told the Financial Times last month that there would probably be further suicides.

Is this the price of progress? Will we see suicides increase at other companies too?

The global work force, whether in China or France ... or in the US, is under ever increasing pressure to become more productive, and companies are forced to get rid of workers that can't keep up with the pace of production.

Laws that protect employees from losing their jobs aren't a good solution, as shown in France. French employers will sometimes make life unpleasant for staff, hoping they will leave.

Is this price in human lives worth the cost of low-priced bandwidth and cheap electronic gadgets?

Topics: CXO, IT Employment

About

In May 2004, Tom Foremski became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper, the Financial Times, to make a living as a full-time journalist blogger. He writes the popular news blog Silicon Valley Watcher--reporting on the business of Silicon Valley.Tom arrived in San Francisco in 1984, and has covered US technology markets for leadi... Full Bio

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