Pressures in the company become fatal: a comic depicting the suicide wave in major French companies

profitability, cost reduction, strategy, business model, objectives, reorganization, competition, internal audit and mldr; These are some of the usual terms in the business world. Motivational concepts supposedly inspiring indicate the path of progress but in more cases than it might seem, they hide The reality of abuse and mistreatment in the workplace.

This problem, silenced by many media outlets where hostile environments for their workers are not uncommon, has been addressed by Hubert ProlongoAnd the Arnaud Delaland s Gregory Mardon in When work kills (Garbuix Books, 2022), a graphic novel inspired by the case of Antonio B., Renault worker who ended up committing suicide due to stress And the exploitation that he was exposed to in his company.

“About 10 or 15 years ago, as a result of the cases that occurred in Renault and France Telecom, I began investigating the issue of suicide in the workplace with journalist Paul Moreira. And a documentary film appeared from this work, which was later presented elevated to the book Travailler à en mourir: quand le world de l’entreprise mène au suicidefor which we contacted different people who have experienced this kind of situation”, explains Hubert Prolongo. Among those who contributed their testimony to the book was Antonio B.’s wife. , who provided the authors with her husband’s personal diaries and many other documents. “We used this material in the first book, but over time I realized that Antonio’s story has many possibilities to imagine. With this idea in mind, I spoke with Arnaud Delalande to make a humorous script that tells us what happened, and although it is true that everything in The graphic novel imagines, and what is told has a lot to do with what happened in real life.”

From illusion to disappointment

Antonio B When work kills It was named after Carlos, the son of a Spanish couple who emigrated to France in the early 1970s to find a better future for them and their son. From a young age, Antonio/Carlos showed a special inclination towards cars and after graduating as an engineer, he was able to realize his dream of working for a big auto company. During the early years, Carlos considered himself special and at no time hesitated to go out of his way for a company whose labor policies are turned upside down with the incorporation of a new generation of managers, many of them from good French families who have been assigned to work Optimize resources at any cost.

These new managers started to apply without accurate knowledge of the company’s operation and its various divisions Modification plans that reduce expensescutting salaries, implementing policies that depersonalize workers, reforming workplaces that prevented them from interacting with one another, increasing their tasks, and imposing a series of Goals that were almost impossible to achieve Among other things, to reduce manpower and resources previously. As a result, Carlos began to lose enthusiasm for his work, went into a depression, was repeatedly abused and humiliated by his superiors, and ended up committing suicide.

“I think one of the most important things about comedy is its ability to explain how structure and power are what really work against workers. In fact, you could say that in this whole story there are no good or bad people, but there are people who push the system to act that way. , no matter if they are men, women, workers or bosses. Since everything is designed, either you accept this way of working or you are out of the game. There is no other choice. In fact, many of the bosses of those companies are too Victims of these dynamics. In the case of Antonio, for example, his immediate superior was a woman who, after the death of the worker, fell into a deep depression. So much so that even though we tried to talk to her, she never agreed to meet us.”

After the suicide of Antonio B. His wife started legal proceedings against Renault Which led to the conviction of the auto company. In addition to obtaining compensation for the death of her husband, Antonio’s wife was finally able to urge institutions and the state to start taking action on this issue to put an end to abuse in the workplace.

“Although they did not appear in the comics for narrative reasons, the guilds played a very important role in highlighting these issues at the time, and in fact, they helped us a lot when it came to conducting the research for the book. However, The same cannot be said of a country that has not acted as it should“, Prolongeau notes that, while acknowledging that measures and protocols have currently been developed to detect and prevent this type of action, he also criticizes that these provisions have not been adequate as they should have been.” It is true that the problem has been identified, which is very good. The unimportant thing is that all actions followed the standards of the capitalist system. In this way, the welfare of workers remains subject to profit and business growth.”

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