EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

11.15.19

Understanding Thierry Breton: Moral Responsibility for “a Capitalism That Kills”?

Posted in Europe at 3:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Overview

Understanding Thierry Breton

  • Part 1: In the Beginning...
  • Part 2: “Mister Cash” Arrives at France Télécom
  • Part 3: Toxic Management Goes on Trial in France
  • You are here ☞ Part 4: Moral Responsibility for “a Capitalism That Kills”?
  • Part 5: Chirac’s Entrepreneurial “Joker”
  • Part 6: The “Cost-Killer” Tries to Tame the National Debt
  • Part 7: “Rhodiagate” and the Vivendi Universal Affair
  • Part 8: Insider-Trading Scandal at EADS
  • Part 9: Noël Forgeard and His “Golden Parachute”
  • Part 10: What Thierry Did Next…
  • Part 11: Atos Healthcare – “The Ugly Face of Business”
  • Part 12: Thierry and the $100 Billion Man
  • Part 13: Socialising With the Elite
  • Part 14: More Influential Friends in High Places

Further parts pending review and research


Breton at France Télécom
Moral responsibility for “a capitalism that kills”?

Summary: “…France Télécom which had previously been defined by an ethos of public service, by egalitarian working conditions and by a sense of universal mission, had now been transformed into a “cash machine” whose sole purpose was to generate shareholder value on international financial markets.”

French telecommunications had a long and illustrious history as a state enterprise. Since 1889 the state telecommunications company was administered directly by a government ministry in Paris which had its budget fixed by the French National Assembly.

Employees of France Télécom enjoyed job security and guaranteed income as state employees, or “fonctionnaires”, but were part of a hierarchical, paternalistic, and tightly regulated structure that offered restricted opportunities for career advancement.

At first, the privatisation of France Télécom was hailed by free market enthusiasts as a showpiece of economic liberalization which had surpassed all other French companies in the scale and speed of its transformation from a state-owned enterprise to a global economic player.

French politicians like to cite France Télécom as a flagship for privatization which demonstrated the methods that could be used to privatize other companies stifled by the yoke of state ownership.

“…France Télécom which had previously been defined by an ethos of public service, by egalitarian working conditions and by a sense of universal mission, had now been transformed into a “cash machine” whose sole purpose was to generate shareholder value on international financial markets.”However, in the eyes of some critics, France Télécom which had previously been defined by an ethos of public service, by egalitarian working conditions and by a sense of universal mission, had now been transformed into a “cash machine” whose sole purpose was to generate shareholder value on international financial markets.

In her article entitled “A Capitalism That Kills: Workplace Suicides at France Télécom” (2014), Sarah Waters, Professor of French Studies at the University of Leeds, takes the view that France Télécom’s situation represents a microcosm of the broad economic changes that transformed the French economy since the early 1980s.

These economic transformations which involved processes of privatization, economic liberalization, and deregulation were characterised by a shift from an economic model rooted in industrial production to a model of finance capitalism driven by exogenous financial indicators.

This is a new economic “paradigm” in which profits are derived from financial exchanges rather than material production. The worker is no longer an essential factor of production but is reduced to a mere “cost factor” and thus becomes an impediment to profitability.

“This is a new economic “paradigm” in which profits are derived from financial exchanges rather than material production.”Under this model France Télécom was increasingly driven by financial imperatives that determined how the company was to be run at every level, from the shop floor to senior management.

With the increased privatisation of its shares, the company was obliged to comply with performance indicators put in place by financial analysts in order to measure the company’s share price on international markets.

France Télécom managers increasingly substituted a coherent internally-defined economic and technological strategy with short-term financial indicators to measure workplace performance.

At the same time, France Télécom’s increasing indebtedness as a result of its vast acquisitions meant that making short-term financial returns became the single and all-pervasive goal of management, to the detriment of every other human consideration.

Didier Lombard cartoon
Didier Lombard protests at the injustice of being branded “the CEO with 60 suicides over 3 years” which overlooks his achievements as “the CEO of the 4 billion annual dividend!”

The new course was set by the ruthless “cost-killer” Thierry Breton when he became CEO in 2002. He defined his primary task as the restoration of the company’s financial health (“santé financière”) through the reimbursement of € 15 billion euros in 2003 and renegotiation of company debt to 50 billion euro over three years.

“France Télécom managers increasingly substituted a coherent internally-defined economic and technological strategy with short-term financial indicators to measure workplace performance.”A company once governed by a vision of the “common good” became increasingly subjugated to a single overarching goal: “la finance”.

The “suicide wave” which occurred under the stewardship of his successor, Didier Lombard, took place after Breton had departed to take up his new position as Minister for the Economy in 2005.

However, some commentators take the view that by laying the foundations for the toxic management culture which ran riot under Lombard and by acting as one of the main cheerleaders for the new economic paradigm, the swashbuckling “ultra-liberal musketeer” Breton shares a moral culpability for the tragedy known as “l’affaire France Télécom “.

Yannick Jadot
According to French MEP Yannick Jadot, cost-killer Thierry Breton bears “moral responsibility” for the France Télécom “suicide disaster”.

This view was recently expressed by the French MEP Yannick Jadot who commented on Breton’s nomination as the French candidate for EU Commissioner in the following terms:

“The “suicide wave” which occurred under the stewardship of his successor, Didier Lombard, took place after Breton had departed to take up his new position as Minister for the Economy in 2005.”“The questions raised by Mr Breton’s career are indeed numerous. He also has a moral responsibility regarding the ‘suicide disaster’, which affected employees at France Télécom.”

In the next part we will look at the events which led to Breton entering the world of politics as Minister for the Economy under President Jacques Chirac in February 2005.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 6/12/2019: DRM in GNU/Linux and Sparky Bonsai

    Links for the day



  2. The EPO Rejects Innovation

    The EPO ceased caring about the needs of scientists whose work involves invention; instead, EPO management crafts increasingly lenient guidelines that yield illegal European Patents (not compatible with the EPC) that heavily-besieged EPO judges are unable to stop



  3. Startpage CEO Robert Beens in 'Damage Control' Mode, Trying to Get Startpage Relisted After Selling to a Massive Surveillance Company

    PrivacytoolsIO is being lobbied by the CEO of Startpage to relist Startpage, based on no actual refutations at all



  4. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 05, 2019

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 05, 2019



  5. Links 5/12/2019: qBittorrent 4.2.0, Expensive Librem 5 and OpenBSD Bugs

    Links for the day



  6. Microsoft Staff Repeatedly Refuses to Tell How Many People Use WSL, Defends Patent Extortion and Blackmail of Linux Instead

    The people who develop WSL (mostly Microsoft employees) get easily irritated when asked how many people actually use this thing; but more interestingly, however, they reveal their disdain for GNU/Linux and support for Microsoft blackmail (for 'Linux patent tax')



  7. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, December 04, 2019

    IRC logs for Wednesday, December 04, 2019



  8. Links 4/12/2019: Tails 4.1, UCS 4.4-3 and Proxmox VE 6.1

    Links for the day



  9. Google Tightens Its Noose

    Now it’s official! Google is just a bunch of shareholders looking to appease the Pentagon at all costs



  10. Europeans Still Need to Save the European Patent Office From Those Who Attack Its Patent Quality

    Patent quality is of utmost interest; without it, as we're seeing at the EPO and have already seen at the USPTO for a number of years, legal disputes will arise where neither side wins (only the lawyers win) and small, impoverished inventors or businesses will be forced to settle outside the courts over baseless allegations, often made by parasitic patent trolls (possessing low-quality patents they don't want scrutinised by courts)



  11. We Never Accepted and Will Never Accept Corporate Money

    Corporate money is a unique problem because of its magnitude and the fact that it's impersonal; shareholders can only ever accept its supposed justifications if they're receiving something in return (of proportional worth to the payment/transaction)



  12. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, December 03, 2019

    IRC logs for Tuesday, December 03, 2019



  13. Links 3/12/2019: elementary OS 5.1 Hera, Plasma 5.17.4, Firefox 71

    Links for the day



  14. Laundering the Reputation of Criminals: That's an Actual Job

    An important reminder that the manufactured, paid-for (media is being bribed) image of Bill Gates is the product of the PR industry he enlisted to distract from his endless crimes



  15. 'Priceless' Tickets to the EPO's Back End and Team UPC

    CIPA's and the EPO's event (later this week) is more of the same; the EPO exists not to serve European businesses but a bunch of law firms and their biggest clients (which usually aren't even European)



  16. IRC Proceedings: Monday, December 02, 2019

    IRC logs for Monday, December 02, 2019



  17. New EPO Leak Shows That the Rumours and Jokes Are Partly True and We Know Who 'Runs the Show'

    Europe’s second-largest institution is so profoundly dysfunctional, a reprehensible kakistocracy of tribalism, money-grabbing career-climbing autocrats and possibly major fraud; today’s leak looks at what motivated and enabled the formation and latest incarnation of “Team Campinos”



  18. Links 2/12/2019: Linux Mint 19.3 Beta, DPL Sam Hartman Talks About SystemD

    Links for the day



  19. What Former Debian Project Leader (Second to the Late Ian Murdock) Thinks About SystemD in Debian GNU/Linux

    Now that Debian is debating and voting on diversity in the technical sense the thoughts of Bruce Perens merit broader audience/reach



  20. Free/Libre Software Will Eventually Become the Norm, 'Open Source' is Just Proprietary Software Trying to 'Buy Time'

    More people are starting to ask questions about Free software while “Open Source” languishes (people can see it’s just a mask for proprietary software); it was a two-decade delaying tactic that’s wearing off (people see GitHub and the OSI/Linux Foundation for what they really are)



  21. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 01, 2019

    IRC logs for Sunday, December 01, 2019



  22. Richard Stallman is Active and Doing Well

    The rumour mill may still be humming along; but against all odds — as Chief GNUisance of the GNU Project — Stallman keeps fighting the good fight (in the face of growing resistance)



  23. Banning Former Microsoft Employees Who Complain About Microsoft Lies, Abuses and Crimes

    The official account of Windows Insider is banning people whom it never even spoke to; this seems like a way of 'punishing' people who are not 'true believers' in Microsoft



  24. Wikileaks: Thierry Breton May Have Misused Regulatory/Government Positions to Attack His Competition (in the Market)

    Thierry 'revolving doors' Breton as seen by the United States government



  25. 13 Years of UPC Promises

    The anatomy of UPC 'fake news' or lobbying tactics along the lines of self-fulfilling prophecies and false predictions



  26. Is Water Wet?

    The criteria for patent eligibility reduced only to this question: will allowing these patents increase ‘production’ (number of patent grants)?



  27. The EPO's President Admits He's Illegally Granting Software Patents (CII, 4IR, IoT, AI and Blockchain Mean Software Patents at the EPO)

    The EPO's chief liar is openly and proudly promoting software patents using buzzwords and hype waves (and mysterious acronyms that are rather meaningless but spread by the media in exchange for money received from the EPO)



  28. Tone Policing and the Linux Foundation

    A timely example of situations where the Linux Foundation can seemingly 'cancel' people (using the Code of Conduct) for political opinions



  29. It EEEsn't Just a Microsoft Thing Anymore

    The EEErosion of Python's independence is a known problem and Microsoft is not the sole culprit



  30. Links 1/12/2019: KDE's GTK CSD Support, Skrooge 2.21.0

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts