Speaking the truth

Ooh la la, an American tire executive has caused a furor with the French. By speaking a language known as the truth.

France’s industry minister asked the tire company to consider rescuing a tire factory in northern France. He wrote back that he would have to be pretty stupid to consider it. Because the union demands high wages and allows the workers to pretend to work.

He claims “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,” he wrote to the minister. “I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!”

France has created zero net new jobs for many years. And the unions do not care. Successive governments have not cared. They have created thickets of regulations and laws that make it difficult and costly to hire workers.

Even if the politicians want to change any of this, they will get voted out of office. Sarkozy is the latest example. Changes he tried to bring in were pretty minor. The French left does not want to work. Add 15 minutes to their work week and they will take to the streets.

The French can be pretty stubborn. In World War II they didn’t want to fight. They caved early against the Germans. When the Nazis ordered them to round up French Jews for annihilation they did so eagerly. The French way, I suppose.

Back to the CEO who told the French minister to stuff the idea of his company trying to rescue the tire plant.

“Sir, your letter states that you want Titan (his company) to start a discussion. How stupid do you think we are? Titan is the one with the money and the talent to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government.”

You might think this might embarrass most French. Recent history suggests it won’t.

As long as the French keep turning out good wines.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

Find Tom on Facebook. For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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