The chief executive of a US tyre maker has delivered a crushing summary of how some outsiders view France’s work ethic in a letter saying he would have to be stupid to take over a factory whose staff only put in three hours of work a day.

Titan International’s Maurice Taylor told the left-wing French industry minister in a letter published by media yesterday that he had no interest in rescuing a plant set for closure.

“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,” Taylor wrote on February 8 in the letter to the minister, Arnaud Montebourg.

“I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!” Taylor added in the letter, which was posted by business daily Les Echos on its website and which the ministry confirmed was genuine.

“Titan is going to buy a Chinese tyre company or an Indian one, pay less than e1 (about R12) per hour wage and ship all the tyres France needs,” he said.

President François Hollande might take some comfort in Taylor’s view of his own country’s business policies: “The US government is not much better than the French,” he said, referring to a dispute over Chinese exports.

CGT union official Mickael Wamen said Taylor belonged more “in an asylum” than the boardroom of a multinational company. – Reuters