Death of Mr Traoré, a temporary worker at Decathlon's Madeleine store
On his first day of work, Wednesday 11 October, at the Madeleine shop in Paris, a temporary worker delegated to Decathlon by the Temporis temporary employment agency died on his forklift truck in an access lane to a car park.
The world leader in sporting goods, one of France's most popular companies, is embarrassed by the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the accident. According to our sources, the worker had not been hired to drive a Fenwick, especially on an access road and in conditions that the unions had already warned were dangerous.
"The work the temporary worker was asked to do did not correspond to the job description for which he had been delegated. And Decathlon didn't inform us of a change in the nature of the assignment, which sometimes happens. Our client was supposed to be handling and unloading a lorry," adds Morgan Boar, Temporis branch manager. "I'm devastated, as are the staff who worked on the case and the family we informed. Decathlon seems so embarrassed by the investigation that has begun that it has asked all those involved to observe a duty of confidentiality. The term is marked in red in the emails we were able to consult, which were sent by the Network Organisation Coach.
On the spot, our journalist was referred to Decathlon's press department, without being able to speak to Natacha Cattoire, the shop manager.
The members of the CFDT union say that the investigation, which was due to start on Thursday 12 October, has been postponed and that the company's lawyers have been trying to circumscribe everything that is said about the facts since the day of the accident. "As a whistleblower, I should have been present at the start of the investigation, but this was not the case", said Lisa Maruskin, CFDT delegate and member of the CSE, a sales assistant at the Madeleine shop.
A judicial enquiry has been launched, as well as an investigation by the Labour Inspectorate, which is likely to prove complex and lengthy.
Who can help the investigators find out what happened?
"Union members and CSE representatives are bound by confidentiality for everything that is said during the investigation, but not the other witnesses or people present, who can describe everything they saw, on condition that they do not tell lies," explains a lawyer who is familiar with this type of investigation. Anger is running high among the CFDT, which on the previous Monday had issued a warning of serious and imminent danger about the dangerous conditions in which lorries were being unloaded on the site.
What we already know:
- The letter of assignment given and sent by Decathlon to its partner, the Temporis agency, will probably have a major impact on the investigation, which began yesterday.
- There had already been another incident in this access lane, involving a Fenwick or electric forklift truck.
- The CFDT had issued a warning on the previous Monday.
- Even if there had been a large number of Decathlon shop employees on site, there would have been no witnesses to the accident in the access ramp to the underground car park, other than perhaps a security guard from a service provider.
- Decathlon employees are not trained or qualified to drive forklift trucks on site, which has led to the frequent use of temporary employment agencies such as Temporis.
- According to our sources, the public prosecutor's office and AFP provided incorrect information about the age of the temporary worker. Since then, all the newspapers have repeated this erroneous information.
What is at stake for Decathlon?
The employee experience, the brand's reputation and compensation for Mr Traoré's family. Decathlon, like many companies today, is concerned with the employee experience. The same companies are sometimes tempted to publicise the fact that they have been awarded the Great Place To Work label. "But we also need to serve our customers and generate sales, and La Madeleine is a flagship for the group in this respect. Getting goods to customers as quickly as possible so as not to disappoint them, and doing everything possible to meet deadlines and targets may well have led to this tragedy," confirms one employee. But when it comes to HR, Décathlon needs to make progress. The HR and safety functions are held by former salespeople and shop managers, who don't have an HR culture or training".
To find out more, watch the video shot on site by En-Contact magazine.
"The Madeleine shop is one of the biggest in the Ile-de-France region, and every day a heavy goods vehicle delivers goods to us, which we lower down using a lift that had been out of order for several days (...) The situation is quite dangerous because there is a lot of traffic on the boulevard de la Madeleine and motorbikes can arrive quite quickly (...).
The temporary worker must have been instructed to take the Fenwick into the access lane to lower the goods. The brakes would have failed, which would have already been reported. (...) Nobody saw the accident, apart from a witness, in principle.
But there had already been incidents on this sloping road, although they had not resulted in a real industrial accident".