France Telecom trial: "It's the economy we want to build that is now on the dock"

The researcher Florence Palpacuer analyzes, in a tribune to the "World", the way in which the resistance movement developed which allowed to denounce the managerial practices accused of having caused a wave of suicides of employees in 2008 and 2009.

Published hier à 11h33, mis à jour hier à 15h03 Temps de Lecture 4 min.

Subscribers article

In front of the courthouse of Paris, the 6 may 2019, day of the opening of the trial France Telecom. LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP

Tribune. Since the May 6, an unprecedented trial is taking place in the Paris District Court, calling into question the responsibility of several top executives of France Telecom and that of the company itself - today Orange - as a person moral, in the social crisis that has led to suicide more than thirty employees in 2008 and 2009.

Just like the social crisis of 2009, this trial has a strong impact in the media. It is an opportunity to hear, during the appearances at the bar, the testimonies of employees, union officials, doctors and labor inspectors, but also of managers who have gone through this period of restructuring.

Article reserved for our subscribers Lire aussi France Telecom trial: how to defend defendants without hurting victims?

Its symbolic significance will be strong in terms of the forms of responsibility that the company and its leaders have to assume when their decisions and their managerial practices are able to put the employees under stress, by destabilizing professional identities, social links and values. they have developed in the exercise of their work.

This is particularly the case when the reorganisations affect staff of various statuses, as is now the case in many service companies, which involve hybrid legal forms, between public and private, and where the modes of social regulation, become uncertain , misunderstood, even denied, can authorize the power in place to an abusive omnipotence.

Forms of new actions

The exceptional nature of this trial is undoubtedly due, in part, to the violence of management practices between 2006 and 2008, but it also holds, for many, the movement of social transformation by which members of the company have carried these practices in public debate, to make visible, explain and denounce their human consequences and to demand another vision of business and work.

It is to this movement of resistance that our research work has been devoted, from in-depth interviews with the main actors who, within the company, the civil society and the State, knew how to put pool resources, deploy innovative actions and bring together an ethic based on respect for the law and people in the management of the company ("Resisting via hybrid spaces: the cascade effect of a workplace struggle against neoliberal hegemony", Florence Palpacuer and Amélie Seignour, Journal of Management Inquiry, 15 may 2019).

This article appeared first on