American businessman Maurice ‘Morry’ Taylor Jr has written a letter damning French working practices. We’re interested in hearing from people who have worked in both countries: do his remarks ring true?
A US tyre mogul has caused a minor diplomatic incident with his comments on French workers, citing ‘crazy’ unions and long lunch breaks as reasons why he would not be interested in taking over a Goodyear tyre production factory in northern France.
In a letter rebuffing French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg’s suggestion he take over the factory, located in an economically struggling part of the country, Maurice “Morry” Taylor Jr, head of the tyre company Titan International did not mince his words.
‘”I’ve visited this factory several times. The French workers are paid high wages but only work three hours. They 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.
“Sir, your letter suggests you would like to open discussions with Titan. You think we’re that stupid? 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 or if those tyres are subsidised.”
The letter raises the issue of cultural differences between French and American working practices, highlighting the very different attitudes to workers’ rights between the two countries. Only 11.3% of American workers belong to a union, a 97 year low, in a country that has seen a gradual erosion of workers’ rights over the past few decades, as the economy has shifted toward part-time and temporary – and frequently low-wage – jobs.
In addition, the US is the only industrialised country in the world that does not have statutory requirements on employers to provide paid holiday, with the average American enjoying a mere two weeks off a year. A quarter of the population have no paid holiday at all. France, in line with many European countries, stipulates a statutory holiday entitlement of 25 days per year.
We’re interested to hear experiences from people who have worked in both countries, or at least have worked in both Europe and the United States. How do the cultures compare? Do Maurice “Morry” Taylor Jr’s remarks ring true? What are the difficulties and advantages of working – or running a company – in each country?
Share your experiences below.
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