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'In the US taking a boss hostage is kidnapping'

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Joshua Melvin - [email protected]
'In the US taking a boss hostage is kidnapping'
American CEO Maurice Taylor reacted with astonishment at the news that two bosses at a Goodyear tyre actory had been taken hostage by union members. Photos: AFP

French and American cultural differences in the world of work were once again underlined on Tuesday when a controversial American CEO reacted with astonishment to news that two French bosses at a factory he is set to invest in had been taken hostage by workers.

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An outspoken American executive blasted French tyre workers who’ve taken their bosses hostage at a Goodyear factory in Amiens, saying “in the United States we’d call that a kidnapping”.

Maurice Taylor, whose company Titan is lined up to take over part of the the plant, which is threatened with closure, didn’t hide his anger during an interview with radio station Europe 1 on Tuesday.

“These people should be arrested and prosecuted,” he said about the workers. “It’s a very serious crime, you could get life in prison. But in France, your government does nothing, it seems crazy.”

The workers took their bosses hostage on Monday, using a tractor tire propped up against a door to hold them against their will in a conference room at the site. They goal of the hostage taking is to secure better terms for the 1,173 workers who could lose their jobs if Goodyear follows through on plans to shut the plant.

French newspaper Le Parisien reported on Tuesday that management at Goodyear were refusing to negotiate with the workers as long as the executives remained prisoners. 

Taylor has already clashed with his potential Gallic workers and stepped on a few toes since Titan’s name was proposed as potential saviour for the doomed plant.

The Goodyear factory made news last year when France’s Minister for Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg, wrote to Taylor, pleading with him to come to their aid.

He responded by mocking French workers for being lazy and spending more time each day chatting, than actually working, saying he would not be so "stupid" to get involved. That response started a tit for tat row between the two, that descended into a row over American and French economic models.

Taylor took aim again at France’s labour laws in his interview Tuesday.

“According to French law, if Goodyear abandons its plans and someone wants to buy the factory, it would have to re-hire all these people, it’s completely stupid,” Taylor added. “I am sorry for Goodyear, but I think that they won’t invest another cent in the future.”

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