An American businessman has claimed the French are “communists”, after he was unable to buy a bankrupt tyre plant because he could not to persuade the Trade Unions to accept job cuts. Maurice Taylor, chief executive of Titan International, had wanted to buy the Goodyear plant in Northern France but walked away from the deal.
He told France Info radio: “You can’t buy Goodyear. Under your laws, we have to take a minimum of 662 or 672 employees. You can’t do that. The most you could take is 333. There’s no business for that plant now.
“You guys have got to wake up over there and tell the unions, ‘Hey if they’re so smart, they should buy the factory’… It’s stupid. It’s the dumbest thing in the world. France should just become communist and then when it goes all bad like Russia did, then maybe you’d have a chance.”
Taylor, who is known as ‘The Grizz’ for his tough talking style, had tried to buy Goodyear plant in Amiens once before. After he visited the factory last year he wrote to the French government claiming the workers were “lazy, overpaid and talking too much”.
He continued: “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 the time the French Industry Minister said: “Your extremist insults display a perfect ignorance of what our country is about.”
His intervention is likely to offend the French but does highlight an issue that has become a major problem for inward investors into the country. French law requires a huge amount of input from Trade Unions and this can make it hard for companies to take steps to reduce staff in difficult economic times.
Should the factory close it will lead to 1,170 job losses, however any successful buyout would save at least some of these.