US tyre boss mocks French work ethic

Morry Taylor Maurice Taylor is nicknamed "the Grizz" for his bear-like no-nonsense style

Related Stories

The boss of US tyremaker Titan has caused an uproar in France after saying that French workers only put in three hours a day and he would have to be "stupid" to invest in the country.

Maurice Taylor made the claims in a letter to France's minister for industrial recovery, Arnaud Montebourg.

He was replying to a request for Titan to consider investing in a loss-making Goodyear plant in Amiens, north France.

The CGT union said the letter was "insulting".

'The French way'

"I have visited that factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but only works three hours," Mr Taylor said in the letter, dated 8 February, and published by French business daily Les Echos on Wednesday.

"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!"

At one point he asked, "How stupid do you think we are?"

Mr Montebourg refused to comment on the letter but told French journalists: "Don't worry, there will be a response."

He said he would reply to Mr Taylor in writing.

Government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said the letter did not reflect broader US views of investing in France.

"I would remind Mr Taylor that France remains the largest recipient of US investment in Europe and there are probably very good reasons for this," she said.

Mickael Wamen, the CGT union's representative at the Goodyear plant was more forthright. He said the letter showed Mr Taylor, "belongs more in an insane asylum than at the head of a multinational corporation".

Mr Taylor, nicknamed "the Grizz" for his bear-like no-nonsense style, made an unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination in the 1996 US presidential election, campaigning on a pro-business ticket.

France has a 35-hour statutory working week, brought in by the Socialist Party in 2000, but critics say it is now stifling economic growth.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories


Features & Analysis

  • Devi AsmadiredjaHermit queen

    The German woman who swapped home for a mountain cave

  • Gift, genericTaboo gifts

    Which presents can cause offence?

  • Women in shared roomCrowded house

    Five ways to survive sharing a bedroom with strangers

  • Part of a Thomas Greve picture of the liberation of BuchenwaldBearing witness

    How a young survivor's drawings helped bring the Holocaust to life

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Older ladyAge of happiness

    A Russian photographer documents inspirational seniors who are refusing to grow old


  • A computer generated model of a lift shaftClick Watch

    The future of elevator technology - lifts that can climb up to 1km in the air and even travel sideways

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.