“[He] belongs more in an insane asylum than at the head of a multinational corporation.”
That was the reaction by a French union official to an amusingly harsh letter by Maurice Taylor, chief executive of tire maker Titan. Taylor was initially interested in buying the French tire factory, which is facing closure following five years of unsuccessful negotiations with unions to enhance its competitiveness. However, after visiting the plant three times, he wrote a letter to France’s industry minister Arnaud Montebourg, saying: “Sir, you would like to open discussions with Titan. You think we’re that stupid?”
Taylor says the plant’s 1,173 workers “have one hour for their lunch, they talk for three hours and they work for three hours. I said this directly to their union leaders; they replied that’s the way it is in France.” The Titan CEO added:
“Titan has money and the know-how to produce tyres. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government. The French farmer wants cheap tyres. He doesn’t care if those tyres come from China or India and these governments are subsidising them. Your government doesn’t care either: ‘We’re French!’
Titan is going to buy a Chinese tyre company or an Indian one, pay less than one euro per hour wage and ship all the tyres France needs. You can keep the so-called workers.
Taylor isn’t exaggerating the problems caused by French unions. In his new book, Becoming Europe, Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg writes,