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Illinois CEO Defends Calling Workers At French Plant Lazy

The Goodyear tire manufacturing plant in Amiens, France. (Photo credit: FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Goodyear tire manufacturing plant in Amiens, France. (Photo credit: FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images)

John Cody. John Cody
John Cody is a veteran reporter for Newsradio 780.
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QUINCY, Ill. (CBS) – A plainspoken Illinois tire company executive was defending his labeling of workers at a French tire plant as “lazy,” after deciding not to buy the facility.

Maurice Taylor, CEO of Quincy-based Titan International, said he spent four years in negotiations to buy the Goodyear factory that is closing in Amiens, France, and he explained quite bluntly why he backed out.

Taylor criticized French management and the communist backed CDG union to explain why he refused to buy the plant. He cited union rules that set a seven hour work day, minus an hour for lunch.

“So now you’re down to six hours,” he said.

Taylor said the employees at the plant work fine for three hours, “and then they mosey around. And the reason being, they want the company to hire more workers.”

He said he told the union director this way no way to make money, but the union leader told him, “This is the French way.”

Taylor insisted he was not blasting French workers in general. He said that’s not how things work at his plant in Normandy, a factory he said is the equal of any in the world.

But he’s garnered worldwide attention for his scathing analysis of productivity at the plant in Amiens.

Taylor said he specializes in turning around money-losing tire plants around the world, by reducing management overhead and increasing productivity.

In a letter to French Industrial Minister Arnaud Montebourg, Taylor wrote: “Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one euro per hour wages and produce all the tires France can use. You can keep the so-called workers. Titan has no interest in the Amiens North factory.”

Taylor said the most productive workers he has are those in the United States, whom he says display both a strong work ethic and creativity.

According to news reports, Montebourg responded by calling Talylor’s comments “extreme” and “insulting.”

Montebourg said Taylor’s views point to a “perfect ignorance” about French workers.