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French press review 8 July 2016

Football results, alleged managerial malpractice at the French national phone company, further fallout from the Brexit vote and government generosity are some of this morning's front page topics.


Libération and sports daily L'Equipe are in celebratory form this morning.

Libé's main headline reads "Griezmann buries Germany", a reference to the exploit of the French striker who plays his club football for Atletico Madrid and who last night scored the two goals which saw the host nation beat the world champions and so advance to a meeting with Portugal in Sunday's decider.

L'Equipe's headline reads "Extasy" and leaves me wondering what they have left in the verbal artillery department in case of a French victory on Sunday.

The rest of the day's main stories are far from joyous . . .

Man-mashing machine brought to justice

Three papers give front-page prominence to a decision by the French legal authorities to call for an investigation of management practises at the national phone company, France Télécom.

Le Monde says the company and three former directors of the communications group are likely to face charges of harrassment. Four other senior management figures will be judged for complicity in the same crime.

No fewer than 65 France Télécom employees committed suicide between 2005 and 2009, as the company went through a major reorganisation. It is alleged that no effort was spared by management to break workers in order to reduce staff numbers, with managers' salaries indexed to the number of departures they provoked.

One former employee interviewed in Libération wonders how many people had to suffer in order to allow the company to offer a monthly service at 19.99 euros. The question is, needless to remark, rhetorical. An engineer explains how he was cut off from his colleagues, his name and number withdrawn from the internal directory, he was left in an isolated office without a phone, a computer or anything to do. He lasted four months. Libé says thousands of employees were subjected to the same sort of treatment, being constantly forced to change their offices or being left in empty spaces until they cracked.

An exemplary case?

Libération hopes that this case will turn out to be exemplary and will lift the lid on similar management practises in other French companies.

L'Humanité is delighted to see the company the communist paper describes as a "machine to mash men" finally being brought to justice.

L'Huma says France Télécom wanted to get rid of 22,000 employees and move or demote 10,000 other as cheaply as possible. Since many of the intended victims had the protected status of civil servants, they were difficult to dislodge by normal means. So the bosses set out to create an atmosphere of anxiety, asking some workers to do more than was humanly possible, forcing others to do absolutely nothing. People had their job descriptions, even their geographical location, changed without negotiation. Salaries were cut. Groups were reorganised repeatedly and without any logic. People were asked to do jobs inappropriate to their qualifications or status. The pressure to leave was perpetual.

No man is an island, no nation either

Catholic La Croix looks back at the decision two weeks ago by the cross-Channel neighbours to leave the European Union and sees nothing but confusion.

The political world and the propert market in London are both in a state of turmoil. The civil servants paid to administer Europe from Brussels are not much better.

The La Croix editorial wonders if the coincidence of the Brexit vote and the Chilcot Report criticising Britain's involvement in the 2003 war in Iraq are not parallel proofs of the United Kingdom's incapacity to continue to make a major independent impact on the international stage.

The La Croix editorial is headlined "The Isolated island", no tautology intended.

The great pre-election giveaway

Right-wing Le Figaro reports that austerity is no longer the flavour of the month, French public spending likely to increase by 7.2 billion euros next year. No plans are afoot to save an amount corresponding to this election handout, so Le Figaro wonders how the government can continue to say it will get the budget deficit down to 2.7 percent of GDP by next year.

European finance commissioner Pierre Moscovici says French credibility is at stake.

It could be worse. Spain and Portugal face sanctions from the EU for their failures to respect their European budget promises. France could be next.


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