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US CEO Says French Workers Have Three-Hour Work Day 1313

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-a-long-break dept.
First time accepted submitter M3.14 writes "In a letter addressed to French Industrial Renewal Minister, Maurice Taylor, chief executive of Titan, writes (French article with English letter) that it would be stupid to buy any factory in France since workers don't really work full time. He'd rather buy cheap factories in India and China instead and import tires back to France. He writes, 'They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that's the French way!'"
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US CEO Says French Workers Have Three-Hour Work Day

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  • Titan (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:36AM (#42963183)

    Just to give a litttle perspective to all of you Objectivists out there, Maurice is a naughty boy http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/lr19107.htm, and I'd take anything he says with either a pound of salt or 50k slipped into your brief case.

    But hey, free markets right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:41AM (#42963211)

    No kidding. Don't take your vacation days, otherwise you can say goodbye to any chance of a promotion and hello to the front of the line for a layoff.

  • And yet... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:43AM (#42963221)

    Funny that the summary doesn't include his initial statement to the French industry official that approached him: "How stupid do you think we are?" [cnbc.com]

    In a word: Very.

    CNN observes that Taylor is not only a relic of the 80s' leveraged buyout "corporate raiders" era, he's a hypocrite as well for wanting to make tires in China:

    "The U.S. government is not much better than the French. Titan had to pay millions to Washington lawyers to sue the Chinese tire companies because of their subsidizing. Titan won. The government collects the duties. We don't get the duties, the government does," said Taylor.

    All of this is beside the point however. US workers have less vacation/break time than anyone else on the planet, in a time where it is increasingly recognized that giving more breaks to workers results in more productivity [theatlantic.com]. The real stupidity comes from failing to notice how well the rest of the world can keep pace with the much-vaunted "American productivity" while maintaining a vastly better quality of life.

  • by ixarux (1652631) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:43AM (#42963231)
    Oh Yes.

    Come down to India and China, where we have no goddamn lives any more. We work more than 12 hours a day on menial tasks at odd times. Forget work-life balance, because we really have no lives. And we work because that's how poor we are, with little choice in life and no government looking out for us. Train us. Use us. Abuse us. Talk to us in racial undertones. Marvel at our ability to take crap for little money.
    Get away with your profits.

    Welcome to the bright world of outsourcing.
  • by smegfault (2001252) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:01AM (#42963347)
    ...And it didn't really work, apparantly. France is only two placed behind the US in GDP per hour worked. [wikipedia.org]
  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:07AM (#42963401)

    I hate hour long lunches

    ok I did not hate them when I lived 5 min away from my house, but otherwise OMFG shoot me in the head with a nail gun ... even if I go somewhere it doesnt take me an hour to eat a sandwich, then what do you do

    I rather go home a half hour earlier

  • by madprof (4723) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:09AM (#42963411)

    Um, they earn more than that in Germany but have a better lifestyle.

  • by trytoguess (875793) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:17AM (#42963467)

    If you're going to post anonymously anyways, you could name the company at the very least. That way people could be warned against the company and/or look up said company to see if there's any other data points that'd corroborate your anecdote.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:23AM (#42963501)

    Hell, I never took vacation... maybe 3 or 4 days in the last year. I got laid off anyway, never mind a promotion. I got no severance pay, but they gave me 70% of my remaining vacation time in cash.

    The lesson is: use your vacation. You may not get a chance later.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:40AM (#42963637)

    i'm french, i'm working around 50 hours a week, and i'm lunching in a quarter.

    the next 2 weeks, i will be in my sister company in USA, and, i'm really sorry, i'm not impressed by the productivity and organisation

    me : 95% work, 5% communication
    USA : 50% work, 50% communication on the work

    where is the productivity ?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:48AM (#42963713)

    Naming the company, and mentioning 30+ million dollars of returned equipment, would likely make the poster's identity very much not anonymous!

  • by ganjadude (952775) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:49AM (#42963715) Homepage
    where i am it only takes a few years... so it doesnt take long to be full of teachers who cant be fired regardless of their ability
  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:04AM (#42963803)
    I don't what French company you are talking about, but there is a tremendous difference in France between private companies and public-like companies. What you mention typically makes me think of some public-like companies (= public or used to be public) ; tons of holidays, arrogance, indifference, incompetence etc... e.g. Orange, SNCF I'm looking at you.
    But on this other hand, thanks to the economic crisis, most of private companies in France are working hard to win markets, and work also hard to keep them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:12AM (#42963859)

    Most of their workforce would always have some long vacation and petty excuses not to do any work.

    Yeah, how dare they have more than 0 weeks of vacation per year. I can understand why it was hard for you to deal with such evil.

    I visited their manufacturing plant, parked in someones space, and some douchebag parked his vehicle behind my vehicle because he was "angry" at me taking his special parking spot.

    So let me get this straight... You were an arsehole to someone and then you're upset when the person you were an arsehole to didn't thank you for it?

    When I called for their support engineers to try to fix a problem with one of their machines shutting off 10 times a day, they were always unavailable for through out the entire day except for early morning.

    Fucking timezones. How do they work?

    Really, it's quite true they work for literally 3 hours a day and have literally 2 hour lunch breaks.

    No. No it's not.

  • by Jack9 (11421) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:14AM (#42963871)

    Please check your facts. I'm sure Illinois has an equivalent to: http://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/fr/sa/cefavgsalaries.asp [ca.gov]

    Teachers' salaries have plummeted since the late 80's. In california, the average salary is around 68k (up 1% from 2011!) and under 50k for new teachers. This is common knowledge at every california university, so there's a lesson in here somewhere. What I was interested in, is where you get this outrageous number of 75k from? http://dianeravitch.net/2012/09/16/correction-chicago-teacher-salary-average-is-74000/ [dianeravitch.net] --- probably something related to this.

  • by niftydude (1745144) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:20AM (#42963897)
    Dude - read what the GP said again. He wasn't ranting about union members. He was ranting about union administrators. And he has a point.

    Take for example Craig Thomson [wikipedia.org]. He was the national secretary of the Health Services Union in Australia, so he was supposed to represent those nurses and ambulance drivers you were talking about. Instead he flew around Australia spending their money on prostitutes and funding his personal political campaign.

    Note that he was never a health professional himself, but before getting on the union gravy train he studied to become a lawyer.

    This is the type of scum that the GP is talking about - that has infested the top administrative levels of a lot of unions. There are more examples of union corruption than I can be bothered to list here. Anyone who doesn't think that the union movement needs a cleanup is wearing blinkers.
  • by thegarbz (1787294) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:33AM (#42963967)

    Yep and I'm sure if he wasn't in a union he'd have simply said "Fuck this shit, I'm killing everyone."

    You should read your post here I'll quote it for you:

    Do you even know anyone in a union? I doubt it.
    [insert completely unrelated rambling nonsense how all the good people in the world are in a union and that only union people save lives]
    You have no experiece when it comes to labor, and it shows.

    Fuck you, asshole.

    You gibberish has nothing to do with anything and just re-enforces what we all think about unions. The overpaid scum and their protectionist friends exists only to increase their pay packet and complain about everyone else.

    Honestly I haven't read such utter crap since I heard that quote from Tom Cruise about scientologists:

    Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident, it's not like anyone else. As you drive past, you know you have to do something about it, because you know you're the only one that can really help

    Now please get off your high horse and join the common people in the rest of the world. Oh and fuck yourself, asshole.

    Full disclosure: I fight industrial fires, am on a first response rescue team, am an occupational first aider, volunteered help during the floods and am NOT nor will ever be a member of some shitty union.

  • Bad headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jiro (131519) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:46AM (#42964033)

    Headline: CEO says French workers have a 3 hour day.

    Article: CEO says that French workers have a 7 hour day but loaf a lot.

    In this case it's not just Slashdot that's to blame for the misleading headline, but come on. What he actually said may be insulting to the French, but is not inherently ridiculous. What the headline claims he said is ridiculous. Sensationalism.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:26AM (#42964253)

    Well, being French and seeing the tone of the AC, I think he need professional help controlling whatever problem he has because if he was as aggressive when he dealt with the French company, I would say that of course he perceived some animosity back from the French staff.
    I live now in Japan, and here too, customers are used to get their way and treat staff like shit (but they stay polite most of the time).
    In France, if a customer has problems respecting the staff like parking on a marked parking spot because "my company spent 30 millions buying your stuff".
    And apparently he cannot understand that not living in the same timezone you can only get on the phone with them 3 hours a day because yes, we like to meet our families on week days.
    Of course he got treated as "some gun totting American that wanted his way", because being obnoxious he really was "some gun totting American that wanted his way", and if he was not a customer the company was depending on, they did not want the hassle and showed it.
    He said he is fluent in French, but he seems to have problems dealing with other cultures.
    The GP was spot on, your answer is a cheap shot.
    Here, in Japan, they work for really long hours, XD
    Here working means being at your office, working ... But also, sleeping, doing internet shopping, wasting time waiting for he boss to go home, so you can go too or you have to go with him and your co-workers drink out until very late (you are a team player, right?) ... In France it is unthinkable, you work fast to get home early, meet your friends and family.
    One of our Ministers replied to this "French are lazy because I cannot treat them like slaves and fuck them by outsourcing their jobs to India the next year" stupid rant.
    He said that his tire company is 20 times smaller than the French Michelin and 35 times less profitable, which if true, shows the benefits of the american way : fuck the workers to hide how incompetent you are, right Mr Taylor?
    His rant is full of words insulting for French people, then his excuse "we were the only ones in the world wanting to buy your factory" puts the icing on the cake XD
    Be my bitch, I am the only one wanting to marry you ugly? Is that the line he used to pick up his wife or what? XD
    But then we learn this Mr Taylor is a failed politician of the extreme right wing XD
    Mr Tailor, I did not know your company until today, but be certain I'll make sure that everyone I know in France and in Japan knows the values Titan is standing for!
    And as our minister told you, come and try to sell some of your tires over here XD

  • by roscocoltran (1014187) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:38AM (#42964337)
    The french minister sent an answer to Maurice Taylor (who is known to be a troll btw). I couldn't find an english translation but it's a well written answer. (sorry, only pdf's and jpg available at this time)
    answer page 1 [huffpost.com]
    answer page 2 [huffpost.com]
    About the 3h/day of talking, the factory was in a transition period where they temporarily switched their production line from tires for car to tires for truck, and the production line for car tires wasn't fully operational anymore. Taylor would have sent the workers home without payment, but the french union refused. That's their difference.
    Of course french workers are not allowed to chat for 3h/day, anyone with a sane mind and who have worked in real life understands this.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Blaskowicz (634489) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:16AM (#42964553)

    No, that's the standard working week, many jobs are 35 hours but overtime still exists (some jobs are still 39 hours) as well as jobs where you basically don't count your hours (working as a cook in a restaurant, some executives, some researcher scientists, entrepreneurs, some people exploited on the labor black market etc.)
    Suggesting 35 hours is the legal maximum is uninformed bullshit.

  • Re:I'm With the CEO (Score:5, Informative)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:20AM (#42964859) Homepage Journal

    I much prefer working with Swiss or Germans - many of the ones I've worked with won't do much more than a 9 hour day, but they'll work very hard during those 9.

    Are you really suggesting that a 9 hour day is some kind of acceptable norm or am I misunderstanding you? You guys should be aiming for a maximum of 40 hours / wk for a decent work/life balance.

  • by berberine (1001975) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:25AM (#42965107) Homepage
    I'm not sure about Australia, but in the US schools also spend tons on electronics, but can't afford textbooks. The school district I work in is like this. For example, the junior high Social Studies department is getting new textbooks next year, but they can't afford one for each student. So, they are getting 75 books, 25 for each classroom. The high school Social Studies is in the same situation. I just don't know the number of books they're getting as I don't work up there.

    Now, the junior high also just received 25 new kindle ereaders. This came from the state and was some sort of reward or something for the state writing exam in January. The school didn't have to pay for them. This is in addition to the 10 kindles we got at the beginning of the year because the school got some sort of grant to pay for them. The one nice thing about the kindles is that we have seen far more kids checking out the kindles and actually reading them than dead tree copies.

    What it comes down to, at least in my district, is there is no grant money for textbooks. So, the school has to pay for those with their budget money. Math has to wait a few years more now for new books, which is sad as many of our Algebra I books don't have covers and are badly damaged because they're so old. The district picked Social Studies first because their books are older and in worse shape. They also still have Newt Gingrich as speaker of the house.

    Any kind of electronics that the school wants, they can probably get. This is because there are thousands of grants out there for them. Our entire district got mobile laptop labs two years ago, all paid for by grants. I don't know if there are any textbook grants out there or if the state doesn't allow such things, but we never have money for books, but we have tons of grant money for just about everything else.
  • by swalve (1980968) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:43AM (#42965183)
    Does this count?" [cbslocal.com] I suspect the difference between the $75k figure and your linked blog's $56k figure is that the $74k is denoted in full-time-equivalent hours. If you take every employee of the union and average their paychecks, you probably do get $56k. But if you correct for all the non-teacher union employees and the people only working part time, you get $75k. I looked at some of the FOIA reports for the CPS and found that there are a number of people on the payroll that work far less than full time.

    Also, the two different numbers cover different populations. The CPS numbers are just for CPS union employees, whereas the the BLS account for all people in that category in the metro area. This includes private schools, suburban schools, pre-schools and so on. Of course it's going to be lower.

    Also, $50k starting salary for someone with a BA is pretty damn good.

    No doubt, teachers' salaries vary across the country, and they suck in many places. But in many places, they are very competitive with other jobs with the same education requirements.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:3, Informative)

    by flyneye (84093) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @08:14AM (#42965373) Homepage

    I agree, I live in an industrial city where Boeing used to build jets. The unions struck and demanded and struck and demanded until it was cost effective to move all the jobs out of state. Now all the little UAW sissies are crying and trying to hold whatever aircraft jobs they can from the other companies( who are also downsizing and moving away for the same reasons). Yeah, it must be nice to be paid $30 hr (fantastic wages for the cost of living around here) to do a job that commonly pays half that for non union, for as long as it lasts anyway. I guess they don't mind the transient lifestyle of moving city to city. People just don't get it, especially when they're drawing pay like they do, until it's too late, then most still don't get it.

  • by BeeRockxs (782462) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @08:42AM (#42965545)
    Yeah, all our defence: "During the Cold War the Bundeswehr was the backbone of NATO's conventional defence in Central Europe. It had a strength of 495,000 military and 170,000 civilian personnel." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundeswehr)
  • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @09:24AM (#42965809) Homepage

    He wasn't an actual plumber (as in having taken and passed the licensing tests in his state). He was a grunt working for an actual plumber.

    Without that license, he wouldn't have been legally able to buy the company, either....

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by dywolf (2673597) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @09:50AM (#42966035)

    "There is no reason their total lifetime earnings should exceed that of the grunt plus the cost of their education unless they are working more hours overall and then the increase should be relative to the number of extra hours."

    Pure and utter bull.
    People have different abilities, different aptitudes, different attitudes, different personalities, etc etc and so forth.
    A doctor will always have a greater worth to society and economy than a burger flipper. Always. You cannot argue otherwise.
    It's also much harder to become doctor, there are far fewer people able to do it, and who want to do it.

    So why in hell should the burger flipper be entitled to as much lifetime earnings as the doctor?

    Don't you realize that if an economy were managed in such a way you effectively create huge disincentive for people to become doctors? Some still will, but many will look at Easy Path A compared to Hard Path B, see they achieve the same result, and thus choose A.

    If someone is content to be a burger flipper their whole life, have at it. I've known a few people who were fine with it (though eventually two of them decided to open their own place and now have a successful local chain, and just sold their first franchise a few hundred miles away).

    As a humanist, the inclination is to say that people have the same worth. And they do on a human scale.

    But when it comes to how they choose to spend their time in trade for money, they absolutely do have different worths.

  • by YoopDaDum (1998474) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @10:33AM (#42966577)
    Breaking the law, like an awful lot of people in France, and nobody cares. There's this old notion of "cadre" / "non-cadre" in French labor law, and if you're an engineering or master level you're a cadre. Now if you're a cadre there's a special regime where hours are not counted, and the "35 hours" law just amounted to a lump of extra vacation days. You're still supposed to do 48h max but nobody tracks this. A lot of companies are using this and making 50+ hours is quite common. Yes, it is illegal strictly speaking but nobody cares. By "a lot" I mean a lot of big companies in internationally competitive markets, and most small companies. In high tech this set-up is mostly a given.

    Now if you're in a big company, particularly if it's protected from international competition or has public roots, then it's a different story. You can be cadre and having to do 35 hours maximum, enforced with badging in some places with strong unions. One example I have in mind is doing military equipment and the French state is the main client.

    And actually, even public companies themselves often break the law. Go to any public hospital and you'll find doctors and nurse pulling 60 to 70h work week just because there's not enough people to do the work and the hospitals can't afford to hire more. Everyone know the 35 hours are just not applicable in many contexts, and turn a blind eye to it.

    The GGP story is maybe true but is just an anecdote in any case, you don't judge a whole country based on that. What you have to keep in mind is that 56% of the French economy is public economy, which is the highest in Europe. The public sector is then dominant, and rather protected, and can indulge in lazy practice (although there are hard workers too. They often get depressed after a while due to lack of recognition). But the others are working hard and efficiently enough to make France the n5 economy [wikipedia.org]. And that's a statistically significant result not an anecdote ;).
  • Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by dolmen.fr (583400) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @10:46AM (#42966719) Homepage

    Bullshit.

    We are also bound to the 48 hours limit.
    But hours between 35 and 48 must be either overpaid or given back as vacation. And that 35 hours limit legally applies only to companies with more than 20 employees.
    Most other EU countries also have a similar limit, but above 35.

    And most managing jobs have employment contracts that make the pay not related to the hours worked, so the 35 hours limit doesn't apply. In that case, most get about 2 weeks of additionnal vacation (in addition to the legal 5 weeks).

  • by wikdwarlock (570969) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:10AM (#42967033) Homepage
    Balderdash!

    It's a percentage, look it up on wikipedia. You'll see that percentages are an ancient way of making things relative, regardless of their absolute value. "Per" means divided evenly, and "cent" means 100. You take some absolute number, break it up into 100 equal parts, and then you can compare it to other equally divided number w/o being concerned about the absolute amount.

    And, some basic necessity things don't scale well with the income level of the people who use them. It's much easier for a wealthy person to buy food, even expensive, organic, hand picked food, than it is for a poor person to buy horse meat and high fructose corn syrup.
  • by compro01 (777531) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:31AM (#42967301)

    Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, DC, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming all allow the employer to not pay out accrued vacation time on termination in the absence of a contract or company policy saying they will.

    Only Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota (only if employed there for at least 1 year), Oklahoma, Rhode Island (after 1 year, like ND), and South Carolina require accrued vacation/PTO time to be paid out.

  • by mattack2 (1165421) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:26PM (#42973145)

    Management and/or HR could care less.

    So they *do* care. The rest of your post implies otherwise.

    (No, I'm not going to put a smiley here. Just because "I can figure out what you really mean" doesn't excuse using incorrect phrases.)

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