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Laborers who work only three hours a day? 'Keep your so-called workers,' U.S. boss tells France

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 20th, 2013
Catholic Online (

"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," Titan International's CEO Maurice Taylor wrote in a letter English to the minister, Arnaud Montebourg. The no-nonsense Taylor, known by many as "the Grizz" took the French socialist system to task when he was asked to rescue a factory there.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Taylor told the left-wing French industry minister in a letter "I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that's the French way!" Taylor added. The letter, which was posted by business daily Les Echos on its Web site 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."

The letter was in response to Paris consulting Titan as a possible buyer of U.S. group Goodyear's Amiens Nord factory in northern France.

"Don't worry, there will be a response," Montebourg told reporters on Wednesday after meeting newly elected Socialist President Francois Hollande. "It's better written down."

However, Hollande may 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.

Taylor's comments are among the latest attacks on France's socialist system. Combined with concerned over plans for a 75 percent "millionaires tax", Montebourg's antics drove London Mayor Boris Johnson to remark to an international business audience that it seemed France was being run by left-wing revolutionaries.

Not one to make friends, Montebourg also lashed out at cheap imports of manufactured goods from low-wage countries like China and last year told the boss of Indian steelmaker ArcelorMittal he was unwelcome in a spat over a shuttered plant in France.

Economists have blamed France's rigid hiring and firing laws for a long industrial decline that has dented exports. Many also fault the country's 35-hour work week.

Titan did not return calls for comment, but the company's website says that Wall Street analysts have dubbed Taylor "The Grizz" for his tough negotiating style.

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