Death of the Post Office?
Since the beginning of 2011 the French ‘Poste’ or Post Office lost its virtual monopoly and has been facing competition from private operators for all mail weighing less than 50 grams. With 260,000 employees the Poste is, after the National Education service, France’s largest employer. Once a public service the Poste is now a public enterprise. The difference is that the Poste now has to make profits. Critics of the change claim that privatisation was ruthlessly forced onto the business, resulting in job cuts and an increasingly brutal management.
Journalist Jean-Louis Perez spent five months with some staff. He met with postmen and women, counter clerks, sales and marketing staff and management. Throughout the various branches and departments of the Poste, many employees complained about the harsh conditions imposed by the sudden changes in the company. Sophie, a post woman in Paris says she now has to work several more hours each week for no extra pay. Patrick, a manager in a sorting centre near Orleans was told to be merciless with the centre’s post-office workers. As he refused, he got sidelined. Traumatised by the new management practices, Patrick is on sick leave. There were times at work when he even considered suicide. Gregory a postman in Alsace went further. Aged just 33 he killed himself in 2010, a result say his colleagues of too much work and a management that wouldn’t listen. Gregory’s mother would like the Poste to recognise its partial responsibility for her son’s death. A report by the Poste’s Union of Occupational Health Physicians to which 70% of the company’s doctors belong, has written to the president Jean Paul Bailly on the subject of work related stress warning of more suicides or attempted suicides.