The war of words continues. In a letter dated February 20th, Maurice Taylor, the outspoken CEO of American tyremaker Titan, has fought back at French Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg, warning him: “I am not the right person to cross swords with”.
In a letter addressed to Montebourg and shown to French business daily Les Echos on Wednesday, Taylor had castigated French workers as lazy. “They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three,” said Taylor.
Montebourg had previously written to Taylor to gauge the American tyremaker’s interest in taking over a stricken Goodyear tyres plant in Amiens, northern France, to which Taylor replied: “How stupid do you think we are?”
In response, Montebourg had slammed Taylor’s letter as "extremist", and the factory's CGT union chief Michael Wamen on Wednesday told Europe1 radio, “It shows that this CEO, of a multinational company, is more suited to being in a psychiatric hospital than leading a company like this."
Now, in a fresh renewal of pleasantries, Maurice Taylor has replied to Montebourg. In a letter reported in the French media on Friday, Taylor declared:
“The ‘extremist’, Mr. Minister, is your government and its lack of knowledge about the way to build a business.
“At no point did Titan ask to lower salaries. We just said that if you wanted to be paid for seven hours, you have to work at least six,” said Taylor.
Turning his attentions to the CGT factory-workers’ union, Taylor continued: “Your government allowed the nutcases from a communist union to destroy [France’s] best-paid [manufacturing] jobs.”
It wasn’t all negative, however, from the eccentric CEO who ran for US president in 1996.
“Sir, I want to thank you again for having leaked my letter to the public. I have had more positive comments than negative ones … France really does have beautiful women and fantastic wine,” said Taylor.
He added the flamboyant warning: “I don’t know much about what your politicians are made of, but I am not the right person to cross swords with. Your team should have realized that when they looked me up on the internet.”