Minister hits back at tyre ‘insults’

American boss was ‘ignorant about France’ – a country where other US companies were investing heavily

21 February 2013

INDUSTRY Minister Arnaud Montebourg has stoutly defended French workers after an American tyre boss denounced them as “so-called workers” who “work just three hours”

He has written to Titan Tyres boss Maurice Taylor saying his comments were “as extreme as they were insulting” and reminded him that his fellow Americans were the biggest industrial investors in France. “In 2012 companies like Massey-Ferguson, Mars Chocolat and 3M chose to increase their presence in France.”

The minister had initially refused to comment on the letter about workers at the Amiens Goodyear plant, which is closing as Goodyear cuts its French workforce by about 40%.

But in his reply he said that Mr Taylor’s remarks “illustrated a perfect ignorance of our country,” a country which had “solid attractions” and solid links with the US.

That was why, he said, around 20,000 foreign companies had invested in France and created two million jobs.

And he reminded him that Titan, a subsidiary of Goodyear which invests in failing tyre companies and turns them round, was “20 times smaller than [French tyre manufacturer] Michelin and 35 times less profitable”. He said Titan “could learn a lot and gain a lot from being in France”.

However, after Mr Taylor finished his letter by warning of cheap Chinese tyre imports swamping Europe – and hinted he could buy a Chinese plant and sell cheap tyres into France – Montebourg warned French officials would monitor his company’s imports “with redoubled zeal”.
Photo: Airbus S.A.S 2013 - Photo by H. Goussé

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