The ‘So-Called Workers’

Clearly, the following is not representative of the highwater mark in Franco-American relations:

According to Reuters, the CEO of a U.S. tire company pulled back the curtain on 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.

The story notes Titan International’s Maurice “Morry” Taylor told France’s left-wing industry minister in a letter published by Paris media that he had no interest in buying a doomed plant.

“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 addressed 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 on Wednesday and which the ministry confirmed was genuine.

“How stupid do you think we are?” he asked at one point, the story notes. “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.”

The French, never ones for backing down – on paper, at least — returned fire:

As the leaked letter drew outrage in France, Reuters says Montebourg penned a scathing response, spelling out the reasons why France routinely ranks as a leading destination for companies to invest, beating China and India in mid-2012.

“Can I remind you that Titan, the business you run, is 20 times smaller than Michelin, the French (tire) technology leader with international influence, and 35 times less profitable,” Montebourg wrote, in a two-page letter in French.

“This just shows the extent to which Titan could have learned and gained, enormously, from a presence in France.”

Montebourg’s letter, a copy of which was sent to Reuters, said Taylor’s comments, “as extremist as they are insulting”, illustrated his ignorance of France.

Taylor is no stranger to speaking his mind, apparently.

Reuters reports Taylor is proud of being nicknamed “The Grizz,” as his group’s logo features a cartoon bear and its website opens to the roar of a grizzly.

And,  the outlet reports, Taylor has clashed with unions before and once suggested that a U.S. judge was “smoking dope” after a ruling against his firm.

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