The Grizz mauls 'lazy' French workers over 'three-hour day'

US industrialist Maurice Taylor sparks storm by insulting staff, refuses to save ailing tyre factory

Paris

An American industrialist has kicked up a firestorm in France for refusing to save an ailing French tyre maker on the ground that its “so-called workers” are lazy and only at their posts for three hours a day.

In an incendiary letter, Maurice Taylor, boss of the US firm Titan, told the French Industry Minister, Arnaud Montebourg, that he had visited the struggling Goodyear factory in Amiens, where he said “the French workforce get paid high wages but only works three hours”.

Mr Taylor added that the workers “get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three”. When he discussed this with representatives of the “crazy” French union, they told him “it’s the French way”.

“How stupid do you think we are?” Mr Taylor asked, ending his letter by telling Mr Montebourg: “You can keep the so-called workers.”

Mr Montebourg did not immediately respond, saying he did not wish to harm French interests. But aides said he would reply to Mr Taylor, also known as “the Grizz”.

The Goodyear factory in Normandy has been threatened with closure since January, with the predicted loss of 1,173 jobs, after five years of negotiations. Mr Taylor had been called in to assess whether Titan might take over production of agricultural tyres at the loss-making plant.

Union leaders at the Normandy plant were nonplussed. Mickael Wamen, a spokesman for the CGT, described Mr Taylor as “closer to the lunatic asylum than able to hold the reins of a multinational company” and called his letter a “total insult”. Mr Wamen also threatened legal action against Titan.

Some conservative lawmakers suggested that the letter was a deliberate attempt to sabotage the French economy by the flamboyant Mr Taylor and said that the business daily Les Echos had fallen into a trap by publishing it.

The letter has also sparked a fresh debate on the issue of French competitiveness, at a time when the Socialist government is accused of stifling the profit motive by introducing a 75 per cent tax on millionaires. French sociologists in Amiens condemned the caricature of the French work ethic as depicted by Mr Taylor. “He’s prejudiced. It shows bad faith,” said Laurence Proteau, from Amiens University, who pointed out that the workload in France had risen rather than diminished. She also took issue with Mr Taylor’s assertion that the French workers were highly paid. “It’s tough for workers to make ends meet on €1,000 to €1,300 (£870 to £1,135) per month in full-time jobs,” she said.

Another Amiens expert on the French labour market, Pascal de Poorter, noted that a recent study by Dominique Méda concluded that France was one of the countries in Europe where attachment to work was the highest.

Productivity statistics also highlight French competitiveness despite a  35-hour working week. According to the Organisation for Economic  Co-operation and Development, considering the gross domestic product per hour worked, in 2011 the French came in at $57.7, ahead of Germans at $55.8, and British workers at $47.2. US workers were just ahead of the French at $60.2.

Mr Taylor also said Barack Obama’s administration was “not much better than the French”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing