US tycoon refuses to employ 'so-called' workers in France

Feb 20, 2013

They only work three hours a day, boss nicknamed The Grizz tells France's industry minister

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AN AMERICAN tycoon has said his company would be "stupid" to rescue an ailing tyre factory in France – because employees there work only three hours a day.

Maurice Taylor, chief executive of US tyre-maker Titan International, rebuffed the chance to take over the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Amiens, northern France, after being asked to consider the prospect by France's industry minister Arnaud Montebourg, the Daily Telegraph reports.

In a frank letter written earlier in February and published today by newspaper Les Echos, Taylor writes: "I have visited that factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but only works three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me 'that's the French way'."

Taylor, nicknamed 'The Grizz' for his no-nonsense negotiating style, claims France's industry is under threat by unions and says his company would be better off buying a Chinese or Indian factory and shipping tyres to Europe.

"You can keep the so-called workers. Titan has no interest in the Amiens North factory," he writes. "How stupid do you think we are?" The Amiens plant, which employs 1,173 people, is now set to be closed by Goodyear after five years of failed talks with French unions.

According to the Daily Mail, Montebourg has confirmed the letter is authentic and promised to pen a missive of his own to Taylor, telling journalists this afternoon: "Don't worry, there will be a response. It's better written down."

Taylor is not the first person to label French workers lazy, the Daily Mail notes. In 2007, Nobel prize for economics winner and American academic Edmund Phelps claimed he was astounded by the country's work ethic. "The French are the inhabitants of the G7 group of industrialised nations who are the least motivated for work. It is incredible", he said.

A maximum 35-hour working week is in operation in France and it has long been acceptable that workers drive home for lunch.

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