An American CEO is jostling café au lait cups in France after declining to invest in a struggling French factory because its "so-called workers" get high wages for working three-hour days.
Maurice Taylor, chairman and chief executive of tire company Titan International Inc., based in Quincy, Ill., wrote a letter to French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, declining to buy a Goodyear tire factory that is being closed in Amiens, France.
"I have visited the factory several times," Taylor wrote in the letter, as reported by Bloomberg. "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. I told the French union workers this to their faces. They told me that's the French way!"
According to Titan's website, "Taylor was nicknamed "The Grizz" by Wall Street analysts for his tough negotiating style."
He ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996.
Titan International Inc. did not return a request for comment.
"The workers of Goodyear would have considered themselves insulted had the author of the letter been someone credible," the General Confederation of Labor, or, CGT union, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg.
Joblessness in France is at a 15-year high and the closing of the plant means the loss of another 1,173 jobs.
In 2010, conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy raised the legal pensionable age by two years to 62, prompting protests that drew millions into the streets of French cities and prompted workers to blockade oil refineries, according to Reuters.
President Francois Hollande's Socialist government has since revised the reform to allow people who started working before the age of 20 to retire at 60 and to ease conditions for access to full pensions for mothers of three children or more, the news agency reported.