您现在的位置: 纽约时报中英文网 >> 纽约时报中英文版 >> 国际 >> 正文


更新时间:2019/7/11 16:45:05 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

35 Employees Committed Suicide. Will Their Bosses Go to Jail?

PARIS — In their blue blazers and tight haircuts, the aging men look uncomfortable in the courtroom dock. And for good reason: they are accused of harassing employees so relentlessly that workers ended up killing themselves.


The men — all former top executives at France’s giant telecom company — wanted to downsize the business by thousands of workers a decade ago. But they couldn’t fire most of them. The workers were state employees — employees for life — and therefore protected.


So the executives resolved to make life so unbearable that the workers would leave, prosecutors say. Instead, at least 35 employees — workers’ advocates say nearly double that number — committed suicide, feeling trapped, betrayed and despairing of ever finding new work in France’s immobile labor market.


Today the former top executives of France Télécom — once the national phone company, and now one of the nation’s biggest private enterprises, Orange — are on trial for “moral harassment.” It is the first time that French bosses, caught in the vise of France’s strict labor protections, have been prosecuted for systemic harassment that led to worker deaths.

如今,这些法国电信(France Télécom)前高管们因“道德骚扰”受审。法国电信曾是一家国有电话公司,现在叫Orange,是法国最大的私营企业之一。这是受法国严格的劳动保护法牵制的法国老板们,首次因系统性骚扰、导致工人死亡而被起诉。

The trial has riveted a country deeply conflicted about capitalism and corporate culture, and may help answer a question that haunts the French as they fitfully modernize their economy: How far can a company go to streamline, shed debt and make money?


If convicted, the ex-executives face a year in jail and a $16,800 fine. But even before the trial wraps up on July 12, with a verdict sometime later, it has become a landmark in the country’s often hostile relations between labor and management.


As President Emmanuel Macron has sought to make France more business-friendly, he has run into a buzz saw of strikes and faced a revolt among Yellow Vest protesters who accuse him of being the president of the rich. While many workers complain they struggle to make ends meet, employers say a system of generous social benefits and worker protections makes hiring onerous and stifles job creation.

在法国总统埃马纽埃尔·马克龙(Emmanuel Macron)寻求让法国变得对企业更友好的时候,他遭遇了罢工的热潮,并面临着黄背心抗议者的反抗,他们指责他是富人的总统。尽管许多工人抱怨他们难以维持生计,但雇主们说,法国慷慨的社会福利和工人保护制度让招聘变得繁琐,扼杀了就业机会的创造。

The trial has become a searing demonstration of those lingering tensions.


France Télécom was caught flat-footed by the digital revolution, as fixed-line subscribers dropped away by the thousands. The state ordered the company to go private in 2003, and by 2005, it was over $50 billion in debt.


Company executives thought they needed to get rid of 22,000 workers out of 130,000 — a necessity contested by the prosecution — to ensure survival.


“They were stuck, cornered,” said Michel Ledoux, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers. “The only possibility was to make them leave, one way or another.”

“他们被困住了,走投无路,”原告律师之一米歇尔·勒杜(Michel Ledoux)说。“唯一的可能是让他们离开,无论用什么手段。”

Weeks of wrenching testimony about despairing employees who hanged themselves, immolated themselves, or threw themselves out of windows, under trains and off bridges and highway overpasses, have suggested that the former executives went very far in “pushing the company into the new century,” as corporate strategy dictated.


The executives include Didier Lombard, the former chief executive officer; Louis-Pierre Wenès, his No. 2; Olivier Barberot, the former head of human resources; and four others.

这些高管包括前首席执行官迪迪埃·隆巴尔(Didier Lombard)、他的二把手路易-皮埃尔·维纳(Louis-Pierre Wenès)、前人事部总经理奥利维埃·巴柏罗(Olivier Barberot),以及其他四人。

A grim universe of underemployment, marginalization, miscasting and systematic harassment was established at the huge company, according to testimony at the trial.


The executives “sought the destabilization of the workers,” prosecutor Francoise Benezech said in her summing up on Friday.

检察官弗朗索瓦·贝内泽什(Francoise Benezech)在周五的总结陈述中说,这些高管“寻求使工人不稳定”。

“People who had worked outside their whole career were suddenly put in front of a computer,” said Frédérique Guillon, a worker advocate who testified at the trial, in an interview. “There were people whose work was simply taken away from them.”

“那些在整个职业生涯都在野外工作的人突然被分配到计算机前工作,”在庭审中作证的劳工维权人士弗雷德里克·居永(Frederique Guillon)在接受采访时说。“有些人干脆就没有工作可做。”

Among those victims, the youngest was Nicolas Grenouville, 28, who was wearing a company T-shirt when he put an internet cable around his neck and hanged himself in a garage, Mr. Ledoux told the court this week.

受害者中最年轻的是28岁的尼古拉·格朗努维耶(Nicolas Grenouville),他在车库里用一根网线上吊自杀时,穿着公司的T恤衫,勒杜本周在法庭上说。

“I can’t stand this job anymore, and France Télécom couldn’t care less,” Mr. Grenouville wrote shortly before his death in August 2009. “All they care about is money.”


An introspective technician used to working alone on the phone lines, praised for his scrupulousness, Mr. Grenouville was suddenly pitched into a sales job dealing with customers. He couldn’t stand it. “They threw him out into the arena without a speck of training,” Mr. Ledoux told the court.


The day before his suicide he had worked a 12-hour day with one 30-minute break. “Little Nicolas took this violence right smack in the face,” Mr. Ledoux said.


Camille Bodivit, 48, had been a planner at the company when suddenly his job description began to shift. He threw himself off a bridge in Brittany in 2009. “Work was everything for him,” his partner’s lawyer, Juliette Mendès-Ribeiro, told the court Tuesday.

48岁的卡米耶·博迪维(Camille Bodivit)原本是公司的规划师,但突然间,他的工作职责开始发生变化。2009年,他在布列塔尼的一座大桥上跳桥自杀。“工作是他的一切,”他伴侣的律师瑞里耶特·芒德-里贝罗(Juliette Mendes-Ribeiro)周二在法庭上说。

“You killed my father — why?” asked Noémie Louvradoux last week, turning to the defendants, in one of the trial’s most widely reported moments. Her father, Rémy, set himself on fire in 2011 in front of a France Télécom office near Bordeaux, in despair over successive marginal reassignments.

“你们杀了我父亲——为什么?”诺埃米耶·卢夫拉杜(Noemie Louvradoux)上周在法庭上转身面对被告问道,那是此次庭审被最广泛报道的时刻之一。2011年,她的父亲雷米(Rémy)在波尔多附近的法国电信办公楼前自焚,原因是他对接连不断地分配给他微不足道的工作感到绝望。

In their defense, the former executives have cited the intense pressure of a competitive and changing marketplace.


“The company was going under and it didn’t even know it,” Mr. Lombard, the ex-chief executive, testified. “We could have gone about it much more gently if we hadn’t had the competition banging on our door.”


Unfortunately for Mr. Lombard, he was recorded saying in 2007 that he would reach the quota of layoffs “one way or another, by the window or by the door.” The window is what a number of the employees chose.


“This isn’t going to be lacework here,” Mr. Barberot said in 2007. “We’re going to put people in front of life’s realities.”


To the mounting signs of distress management turned a deaf ear, testimony at the trial suggested.


Noëlle Burgi, a sociologist who worked with the employees during the suicide wave and testified at the trial, said in an interview that it was “a process of humiliation.”

社会学家诺埃勒·比尔吉(Noelle Burgi)曾在公司出现自杀潮期间做过员工的工作,并在法庭上作了证。她在接受采访时说,那是一个“使人丧失尊严的过程”。

“You were put in an office, underground,” Ms. Burgi said. “There was one guy who was literally kicked out of his office. He didn’t understand.”


The suicides and testimony made clear that France’s chronically high unemployment rate had left many of the workers feeling especially vulnerable.


“Before, when there was full employment, if you were unhappy at work, you could tell your boss to go to hell,” Ms. Guillon said.


But those conditions haven’t existed for years in France, where the labor market is stagnant and immobile by American standards, and workers have little culture of moving cross-country for a new job.


It is clear that these France Télécom employees had signed on expecting to finish their careers at the company. “Eighty percent were there to stay until the end of their professional life,” Pascale Abdessamad, a France Télécom worker who also testified, said in an interview.

很明显,这些法国电信的员工是打算在公司里待一辈子的。“80%的人会一直待在那里,直到他们的职业生涯结束,”曾在法庭作证的法国电信工人帕斯卡勒·阿布德萨马德(Pascale Abdessamad)在接受采访时说。

Most of the employees were deeply dedicated to their work, testimony indicated. A company like France Télécom, iconic in French life for years, was an apparent lifelong security blanket.


“These companies were considered family,” Mr. Ledoux told the court. To be mistreated by one is extremely transgressive,” he said.


France’s executive caste, normally mutually supportive, has been notably silent about the executives on trial, while France’s workers have watch the proceedings with special glee.


The courtroom is filled with current and former company employees who look on with disapproval at the silent row of jacketed defendants.


“Even if the penalties are low, it will be a nice stain on their jackets,” said Noel Rich, a France Télécom employee who had come to observe the trial.

“即使处罚很轻,那也会在他们的正装上留下一个大污点,”前来旁听庭审的法国电信员工诺埃尔·里什(Noel Rich)说。

“These are guys who are used to hanging out with ministers,” Mr. Rich added. “There’s been no words of compassion for the little guy.”