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.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks

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 12/7/2020: KDE Plasma 5.20 Preview and Elive 3.8.14 Beta

    Links for the day



  2. [Humour] The 'Orange One' Does Not Respect Judges Either

    More than two years after taking over the European Patent Office (EPO) António Campinos has done absolutely nothing to restore judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO



  3. The Systemd Song

    Speak out about IBM's strategy before we're all using GNU/Linux distros 'barcoded' with systemd



  4. Monopoly (or Vendor Lock-in) is Not Modularity

    IBM cannot totally control the kernel, Linux; IBM's control over GNU/Linux may be worth even more than what it paid for Red Hat as that's the key to overpriced support contracts and the general direction of development (important trends such as file systems and various low-level stacks)



  5. The Internet Archive Doesn't Forget, Whereas the Internet and the Web Forget Very Fast

    World Wide Web history is grossly undervalued and preservation of such history (e.g. by the Wayback Machine) is taken for granted by far too many people; the robber barons of today benefit the most from erosion of collective memory as they get to rewrite the past to suit their present and future interests



  6. Environmentalism and Free Software Can be Viewed as Closely Connected and Help One Another

    Modest lifestyles are an overlapping pattern in the Free software community and green activists; there's room for alliances and collaboration, bettering society by reducing consumption and discouraging voyeurism



  7. Free (as in Freedom) Software + Social Control Media ≠ Free Speech

    Speaking through middlemen and private platforms is bad enough (that gives others unjust power over speech); to claim that because the underlying platform is free/libre software it therefore becomes a non-issue is also dishonest



  8. António Campinos: President or Quasi-Autocratic Corporate Puppet?

    The culture of oppression — and censorship of evidence of oppression — is what today’s EPO is all about; the EPO learned how to better avoid (or block) negative publicity without actually changing its ways; and due to unprecedented speech restrictions you won’t hear that from SUEPO



  9. The Media Continues to Ignore Corruption of António Campinos

    António Campinos has Croatian scandals on his lap; the obedient media, however, refuses to even talk about it (or uses COVID as an excuse to write nothing on the subject, as some journalists have told us)



  10. A Call for Patent Sanity

    The public's call for reform is motivated by improved understanding of today's debased patent system and how out-of-order (detached from its original mission statement) it has gotten; patent maximalism, if it does not completely unravel this whole system, severely discredits it



  11. Declassified US Army Field Manuals Explain Microsoft's Public Relations Strategy (Similar to Selling Imperialism to the Occupied)

    The misuse of public broadcast to brainwash the public is well understood and thoroughly exploited by both Microsoft and the Gates Foundation (which sells this ridiculous lie that the world’s richest people speak for and fight for the poorest, i.e. those impoverished by endless greed)



  12. IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 10, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, July 10, 2020



  13. Links 11/7/2020: Slackel 7.3 Openbox, Kiwi TCMS 8.5, Librem 5 Dogwood Update 3

    Links for the day



  14. Education Without Free Software is Training or Indoctrination

    Kids need to decide for themselves what they want to do and what they wish to use when they grow up; schools need to provide general tools and the mental capacity to make good decisions (rather than make these decisions for the kids, sometimes at the behest of foreign monopolists)



  15. Links 10/7/2020: Wayland-Info, diffoscope 151 and Tor 0.4.4.2-alpha

    Links for the day



  16. European FRAND (Related to SEP) Proponent and Famed Programmer Comes to Realise That It's Actually a “Scam”

    Even people who have long promoted the practice of mandatory "licensing" (in effect patent tax one is unable to work around) are apparently changing their minds and their tune



  17. Not Even a Single Corporate Journalist Has Written Anything About These Very Important Bits of News (Updated)

    Constant propaganda from patent maximalists has long infested the media, which is sometimes controlled and even bribed to set the tone and the agenda; important developments are being tucked away and require very deep digging for ordinary citizens to find



  18. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 09, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, July 09, 2020



  19. Racism in Technology (and Who Typically Lectures Us About the Subject)

    Racism is a real problem; some approaches to tackling racism, however, can also be problematic and those who take the lead 'on behalf' of victims tend to be opportunistic and privileged few (piggybacking others' grievances to further advance their financial agenda)



  20. Links 10/7/2020: Debian 8 Long Term Support EOL, Mobian Project, Mesa 20.1.3

    Links for the day



  21. [Humour] COVID-19 is Very, Very Afraid of Human Beings Making More Monopolies Instead of Fighting Together

    The European Patent Office (EPO) to the rescue! Fighting a dangerous pandemic one profitable monopoly at a time!



  22. The News is Never 'Slow', It's Just Journalism That's Slowing Down (and Investigative Journalism Coming Under Attack)

    A mix of censorship and subtle mind control contribute to misinformed societies that shape their perception or misunderstanding of the world based on false measures of authority (where money can determine what is true and what is untrue); many topics remain completely untouched, leading to apathy in a vacuum; it's very much applicable to international organisations, which are presumed benign by virtue of being multi-national or supranational



  23. Social Control Media is About Social Control and If It Doesn't Ban You It'll Shut Down Everyone's Account (One Day)

    It’s time to leave the ‘Internet rot’ which is social control media well behind us; blogging and RSS/XML may seem like a thing of the past, but they may as well become the future (again; if we make the correct and informed choices)



  24. Microsoft's Fingers in Every Pie: The Cult Mentality That Society Needs to Become Wary of

    Microsoft and its co-founder (pretending to do his for-profit 'charity' via the Gates Foundation) are trying to control the world; in the process they've moved to control even their most potent competitor, according to Gates himself, which is GNU/Linux



  25. Links 9/7/2020: Google’s Open Usage Commons, GNOME 3.36.4, Neptune 6.5

    Links for the day



  26. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, July 08, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, July 08, 2020



  27. Links 8/7/2020: SUSE to Acquire Rancher Labs, Btrfs as Default in Fedora, Qt Creator 4.12.4

    Links for the day



  28. Yes, Master

    When the Linux Foundation tells us to tone down our language we ought to remember what kind of hypocritical stance these people have (note: the above have nothing to do with slavery, either)



  29. Fraunhofer is Again Evergreening Software Patents to Maintain Its Codecs Cartel, Forcing Everyone to Pay to View/Stream Multimedia Files

    The roller-coaster of software patents on multimedia isn't stopping; we know the culprits who can be named for perpetuating this injustice



  30. [Humour/Meme] Focusing on the Bombings and Who's Included in the Bombings

    Supremacist agenda disguised as "tolerant and inclusive" is still objectionable supremacist agenda


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