France Telecom employee sets self on fire at Merignac

A man covers the traces of marks left by a French Telecom employee who set himself alight in a company carpark The man set himself alight shortly after arriving at work

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A France Telecom worker has committed suicide by setting himself on fire in a work car park, management and unions have said.

The 57-year-old employee, who had four children, had worked for the company for over 30 years.

He is reported to have had several transfers within the firm in recent years, which he was unhappy about.

There were more than 30 reported suicides in 2008 and 2009 at the company which employs 100,000 people.

The suicide took place at France Telecom premises at Merignac, near Bordeaux, in southwestern France.

'Overwhelmed'

"The whole staff is completely overwhelmed with emotion," trade union representative Sebastien Crozier told AFP. "All of Bordeaux is in tears."

Another union representative said the man was local and had set himself alight on arriving at work.

France Telecom is one of the country's biggest employers and also runs the major mobile provider Orange.

Unions had blamed restructuring and work pressure at the firm for the deaths in 2008 and 2009, saying that some staff were being left behind in the firm's transformation from a government agency to a private company.

But France Telecom says the rate of suicides is statistically not unusual for a company with such a large workforce.

Criticism about the way the company handled the suicide crisis led to the resignation of its deputy CEO in October 2009.

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