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Suicide VoicesLabour Trauma in France$
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Sarah Waters

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789622232

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789622232.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

Orange on the Inside

Orange on the Inside

(p.139) Chapter 4 Orange on the Inside
Suicide Voices

Sarah Waters

Liverpool University Press

Chapter four examines the suicide crisis at France Télécom, situating this in the shift to a new finance-driven management model, following the company’s privatisation, whereby the search for shareholder value became the overarching strategic goal of the company. I draw on scholarship on financialisation and in particular, the rise of shareholder value, examining its impact on the changing status and conditions of labour. Suicides were not an aberration in an otherwise smooth-functioning system, but the consequence of systemic processes that sought to remove labour from the workplace as an obstacle to extraneous financial goals. The chapter examines the structural transformations of the company which transformed the perceived value of the individual worker and considers the new expulsionary management tactics that characterised the Next restructuring plan. The chapter draws on testimonial material, including suicide letters and witness statements drawn from a legal case taken by a work inspector against the company in 2010 which culminated in the recent criminal trial against the company’s former bosses. An analysis of this testimonial material allows us to reconstruct the causal connections that link structural transformations in the company to the acute suffering that triggered an act of self-killing.

Keywords:   France Télécom, Orange, Privatisation, Financialisation, Shareholder value, Labour conditions, Expulsionary tactics

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