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US tyre boss slams 'extremist' Hollande government in new volley over French workers

Reuters/Courtesy of Titan International

American tyre boss Maurice Taylor has fired another volley in the war of words with French Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg, calling the French government’s policies towards private business “extreme”.


On Wednesday Montebourg replied to an earlier letter from Taylor, in which attacked French workers, suggesting they were lazy.

Montebourg retaliated, calling Taylor an extremist and warning him to be “assured that you can count on me to inspect your tyre imports with a redoubled zeal”.

Some of France’s right wing politicians deplored Montebourg’s reaction, saying it amounted to targeting business people who criticise the French.

In a new letter on Thursday, Taylor, the CEO of US tyremaker Titan, tells Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg that France's political class is "out of touch (with) real world problems."

"The extremist, Mr Minister, is your government and the lack of knowledge about how to build a business," he said.

Taylor’s first critical letter, dated 8 Feb and obtained by French business daily “Les Echos” this week, was in response to an invitation from Montebourg to consider investing in a loss-making Goodyear tyre plant in northern France.

"I have visited that factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but only works three hours," Taylor said.

"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!"

Taylor's letter sparked uproar when it was published Wednesday,

In his latest response, Taylor said that he himself "must be nuts to have the idea to spend millions of US dollars to buy a tyre factory in France paying some of the highest wages in the world."

"Your government let the wackos of the communist union destroy the highest paying jobs," Taylor told Montebourg.

"At no time did Titan ask for lower wages; we asked only if you want seven hours pay, you work at least six."

Taylor said many French people shared his criticism of France.

However, he declared: "France does have beautiful women and great wine."

"PS: My grandmother named my father after French entertainer Maurice
Chevalier," and as his father's oldest son, he inherited the name, Taylor added.


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