"Keep your so-called workers," U.S. boss tells FranceThe CEO of a U.S. tyre maker has delivered a crushing summary of how some outsiders view France's work ethic in a letter saying he would have to be stupid to take over a factory whose staff only put in three hours work a day.
Titan International's Maurice Taylor, nicknamed "The Grizz" for his negotiating style, told the left-wing French industry minister in a letter published by media on Wednesday that he had no interest in rescuing a plant set for closure.
"The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three," Taylor wrote on February 8 in the letter in English to the minister, Arnaud Montebourg.
"I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that's the French way!" Taylor added in the letter, which was posted by business daily Les Echos on its website and which the ministry confirmed was genuine.
"Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour wage and ship all the tires France needs," he said. "You can keep the so-called workers."
Socialist President Francois Hollande might take some comfort in Taylor's view of his own country's business policies: "The U.S. government is not much better than the French," he said, referring to a dispute over Chinese exports.
Montebourg's office said the letter was an authentic response to Paris consulting Titan as a possible buyer of U.S. group Goodyear's Amiens Nord factory in northern France.
The minister refrained from an immediate reply: ""Don't worry, there will be a response," Montebourg told reporters on Wednesday after meeting Hollande. "It's better written down."
Union leaders were less cautious. CGT official Mickael Wamen said Taylor belonged more "in an asylum" than the boardroom of a multinational company.